Today, I got the opportunity to post a discussion piece on whether al Qaeda affiliates actually follow a plan in light of the many opportunities and competing interests at play. Recently, there has been renewed discussion about “the Next Bin Laden”. I’m not a big fan of these kinds of posts. But I did think it was worth discussing whether these al Qaeda affiliates actually have any sort of plan and if so, do they follow any of the lauded al Qaeda strategy documents put out by their theorists?
Here’s an introduction to the post and you can read the rest at FPRI:
The rise of many jihadi affiliates around the Africa and the Middle East has renewed the American mediaquest to anoint “The Next Bin Laden”. Lacking any real information or expertise on emerging leaders some analyses has settled on older known quantities; namely Abu Musab al-Suri. (I wonder if someone just changed the date on this article from 2005 to 2013, Lawrence Wright does a better breakdown of Suri at this link from September 11, 2006.) While I’ve always been a critic of Suri, the article does raise an interesting question: do the mish-mash of “al Qaeda-in-name” affiliates actually have a plan for their actions? Most importantly, what is the plan for Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (aka ISIS/AQ in Iraq) as they move forward in Syria?
If al Qaeda affiliates were to actually build a plan from their own lessons learned, I would assume they might reference three jihadi planners of note and several other lesser-known jihadi veterans old and new. For the “Big Three” and their relevant works I would pick:
- Abu Musab al-Suri and his lengthy 1600 page The Call to Global Islamic Resistance released in 2005
- Bin Laden’s final strategic thoughts from Abbottabad
- Abu Bakr Naji’s 2004 upload The Management of Savagery
I’ll discuss some of my general notions about these three influences and my opinion on whether any of these three actually make much of an impression on current jihadi conflicts.