Al Qaeda’s reclusive chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is cut off from his top commanders and keeping the outfit afloat only through loyalty as the once world’s most feared terror group is steadily losing recruits and funding sources to its splinter faction – the Islamic State.
“Al Qaeda is no longer a functioning organisation after being ripped apart by the Islamic State (ISIS),” the Guardian newspaper reported, quoting two of the terror group’s most important spiritual leaders.
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, regarded as the most influential jihadi scholar alive, told the paper that Zawahiri “operates solely based on the allegiance. There is no organisational structure. There is only communication channels and loyalty.”
Maqdisi counts 63-year-old Zawahiri as a personal friend.
Zawahiri, who became al Qaeda chief after the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US Special Forces in May 2011, carries a USD 25 million reward on his head.
Another radical preacher Abu Qatada, a Jordanian who was based in London before being deported in 2013, said Zawahiri is “isolated” and admitted that ISIS have been winning the propaganda and ground war against al Qaeda.
Qatada, described by the British government as a “truly dangerous individual”, said ISIS members were extremists and a “cancer” growing within the jihadi movement following their assault on al Qaeda over the last two years.
ISIS is an al Qaeda splinter group and it has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria.
Al Qaeda has distanced itself from the group, chiding it for its lack of teamwork in its aggressive, brutal expansion.
ISIS leaders have described al Qaeda as a “drowned entity” and declared that they will not tolerate any other jihadi group in territory where they are operating. The group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a former al Qaeda commander in Iraq, has gone on to build a global network of affiliates and branches that now stretches from Afghanistan to West Africa.