AFGHANISTAN – Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Afghanistan and an Opportunity for the West

Aug. 21, 2019 | Gatestone Institute | Lawrence A. Franklin


In its effort to sustain a pro-Western regime in Afghanistan, the United States might instead take advantage of an opportunity already in place… it still be might be far less costly in life and treasure to safeguard the area and gather intelligence, rather than to leave and then have to go back. Pictured: U.S. soldiers on patrol near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While the world’s two most prominent and competing jihadist networks, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), share the ultimate objective of establishing a global Islamic caliphate and ushering in the apocalyptic age of the Mahdi. Their intermediate goal seems to be replacing the liberal nation-state system with a worldwide Muslim Ummah. Their immediate aims are different.

In the short term, Al-Qaeda evidently wants to pressure the United States to withdraw from direct involvement in the Middle East. ISIS, on the other hand, wants to cleanse the region’s Arab regimes of secular dictatorships, corrupt ruling elites and insufficiently devout Muslim intelligentsia.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS also differ in strategy, tactics, relations with fellow Muslims, treatment of non-Muslims and methods of proselytization.

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