As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released the third episode of Ayman al Zawahiri’s “Brief Messages to a Victorious Ummah” series on Aug. 25. The latest installment is subtitled “Fear Allah in Iraq.” The al Qaeda leader clearly expects the Islamic State to continue to lose ground, arguing that the Sunnis of Iraq should “reorganize themselves” for a “protracted guerrilla war to defeat the neo-Safavid [Iranian]-Crusader occupation of their regions as they did before.”
Zawahiri critiques the Islamic State’s approach to waging jihad in Iraq in his brief message, which is just over four minutes long. His arguments further highlight how al Qaeda and the Islamic State have evolved very different strategies for waging jihad.
Whereas al Qaeda wants to be viewed as a popular revolutionary force, serving the interests of Muslims, the Islamic State deliberately markets itself as a top-down authoritarian regime that seeks to overtly impose its will on the populace.
Al Qaeda and the Islamic State share the same long-term goal, as they both want to resurrect an Islamic caliphate. But they diverge on the steps that should be taken to achieve this goal.
Read more: Long War Journal