Last week, I posted a question asking readers if they would consider the following hypothetical group of armed men to be “al Qaeda?”
- A group of heavily armed men occupy a remote area in an African/Middle Eastern/South Asian country.
- 95% or more of the groups’ members are local people from the country where the terror group resides.
- The group publicly states their intent to institute governance by Sharia law.
- 2-3% of the group’s members served as foreign fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan after 2001 fighting in coordination with al Qaeda, the Taliban or al Qaeda in Iraq.
- The group calls itself “Ansar al (fill in the blank)” or “Lashkar e (fill in the blank)” but don’t mention al Qaeda in their name.
- Some of the groups’ spokesmen, at some point in the past, have publicly praised Osama Bin Laden.
- It is completely unclear whether any of the group’s members have publicly declared bay’a (allegiance) to Ayman al-Zawahiri.
- The group records videos of its attacks. At times, these videos show up on jihadi web forums. At times, these videos randomly show up on YouTube.
- The group’s funding streams remain unclear. News reports of unknown reliability claim the group gets some funding from kidnapping & local extortion and some from Persian Gulf donations.
97 voters answered this question over a three day period and the vast majority (>80%) said “No”. Here are the results.
Additionally, 16 people left comments about this question which are compiled here.
More to follow on this debate in the next couple of posts.