Not only isn’t Al Qaeda on the run, but Al Qaeda has gotten so big that it’s monopolized the business of killing Al Qaeda terrorists.
A rogue Iraqi offshoot of al Qaeda is now killing more rival al Qaeda fighters every week in Syria than President Bashar al-Assad’s forces as infighting intensifies among opposition gunmen.
Clashes this year between al Qaeda’s official Syria wing, the Nusra Front, and the franchise’s disowned offspring, The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has killed hundreds of fighters and displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
Nusra lost control of Raqqa – the only rebel-held city in Syria – to ISIL fighters in January and intense fighting over the weekend resulted in ISIL making gains in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, Syria’s oil region.
If ISIL can take the province, it will control territory across Syria and into Iraq.
The term rogue is media political correctness. Al Qaeda in Iraq was official for a while and there are at least, roughly, three separate Al Qaeda groups fighting in Syria now. Zawahiri’s man isn’t even in one of the two that identify overly with Al Qaeda.
As with Boko Haram, these distinctions don’t really matter that much. Zawahiri has a limited ability to support any local Al Qaeda affiliate and any of the local Al Qaedas are bigger than whatever he commands.
What matters is not who has the official recognition, but which group shares Al Qaeda’s ideology, tactics and goals. .