With al Qaeda beaten on the battlefield in both Afghanistan and Iraq, al Qaeda Prime is struggling to survive and remain relevant to the jihadi cannon fodder that wants a strong horse to lead them to the caliphate glories they know are their just reward.
As I noted recently here and here, the new flashy jihadis are claiming the mantle of leadership for the global jihad from the guys in the caves who are collecting their AARP fanny packs:
In hiding, targeted by drone strikes and unable to land a blow in the West, al Qaeda's ageing leaders are losing a power struggle with ultra-radical young militants in Iraq and Syria who see themselves as the true successors to Osama bin Laden.
The shadowy network that targeted the West and its Arab allies for almost a generation is increasingly seen as stale, tired and ineffectual on the hardcore jihadi social media forums and Twitter accounts that incubate potential militant recruits. ...
The generational divide opening up in radical Islamist ranks threatens to topple al Qaeda from its primacy in trans national militancy, a stunning loss of prestige for a group whose hijacked plane attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York's World Trade Center, Washington and Pennsylvania.
The Islamic State, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) until the June 29 declaration of the caliphate, has galvanized young followers by carving out swathes of territory in Iraq in a rapid advance last month.
President Obama's Cairo outreach to the Islamic world, embrace of Turkey's "tame" Islamist government, and withdrawal from Iraq has not achieved what the administration assumed it would achieve--a kinder, gentler Islamist world.
We have to go back to the cowboy methods of defeating the jihad--killing jihadis--and supporting Arab states in reforming itself to reduce the appeal of Islamism to their young men.
That is why I had hopes for the Arab Spring. I drew hope from the new sight of Arabs calling for democracy rather than Islamism as the solution to autocratic corruption and stagnation.
President Obama's outreach to the Islamic world wasn't bad itself. But to work, an appeal to the moderates of the Islamic world had to go hand-in-hand with our efforts to kill the violent radicals who enjoy killing moderate Moslems just as much as they enjoy killing Jews, Christians, and Hindus.
But now we're back to the pre-9/11 situation where a group of Islamist nutballs with a sanctuary seem like a hopeful future to young Moslem men who eagerly seek to sacrifice themselves to wage jihad.