There was a feeble attempt made by the Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula to say that the Charlie Hebdo attack was ordered by Ayman Al-Zawahiri. While this is yet again a desperate measure to stay in contention a fact that would hurt Zawahiri the most is that the Al-Qaeda under his leadership has slipped to number three position in the list of most dangerous terrorist outfits. The leader is the ISIS followed by the Boko Haram.
The disintergration of the Al-Qaeda took place for various reasons. The primary reason as many may believe is not the rise of the ISIS, but it was the complete lack of faith in the leadership of Zawahiri.
His last ditch attempt to announce the Al-Qaeda in the Sub-Continent too has failed miserably and this has left Zawahiri stuck in his cave in Afghanistan griding his teeth in desperation. [Al Qaeda video on Paris attacks authentic: US]
No trust in leadership
Zawahiri unlike an Osama Bin Laden or Anwar Al-Awlaki does not enjoy a cult stature. For many in the Al-Qaeda he is just lucky to be there since he was very close to Bin Laden. The top leadership of the Al-Qaeda believed that his proximity to Laden meant that the soldiers would look up to him as their leader.
However this attempt failed and today he is just a puppet in a cave with no followers. His speeches do not have the fire. The brutality factor as many radicals enjoy is clearly missing and he appears to be targeting the United States in confused messages just for the sake of it.
Take his latest video in which he announced the formation of the Al-Qaeda in the Sub-Continent. It never caught on and barring the frenzy in the media which lasted one day, there was no passion that it stirred among the cadres.
Lack of a field commander
If there is one thing that is clear it is the Al-Qaeda recruits do not join to the outfit to listen to speeches on ideology. They want a piece of the action and nothing excites them more than a spectacular terror strike. Under the leadership of Zawahiri, this has not happened as yet.
When Bin Laden was in command, he had an Ilyas Kashmiri with him. Kashmiri headed the 313 Brigade of the Al-Qaeda. Not only did he fight the US in Afghanistan, he also planned meticulously along with the likes of David Headley on executing spectacular strikes.
Today's Al-Qaeda misses a commander like Kashmiri and the cadres are more or less demoralized. This explains as to why the Al-Qaeda went out with a whimper in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria which were its strong holds.
Sub continent wing never took off
Bad geographical sense, the delay in declaring a caliphate and betrayal added with a poor choice of leader has only ensured that the Al-Qaeda in the Sub Continent was not a force to reckon with as yet.
If one observes the video of Zawahiri announcing the AQIS carefully he refers to Gujarat and Ahmedabad as two different places.
Secondly he does not put-forth a vision like how the ISIS did to catch the imagination of the radical youth. Unlike the ISIS which was quick to announce a caliphate and also the establishment of Global Islamic Council with India on the map, the Al-Qaeda was only making an incomplete presentation.
Unlike Abu Bakr Al-Bhagdadi, Zawahiri only continued to talk and never managed to convert words into action. Moreover Zawahiri also appointed Asim Umar as chief of the AQIS another person with no ground level skills. Umar was just a preacher.
Lost out on donations
With Zawahiri preferring to stick to his cave and belt out videos once in a while, the ISIS and the Boko Haram engaged in action on the ground. The majority of the donors from Saudi Arabia quickly shifted their loyalty to the ISIS and the Al-Qaeda lost out a great deal on the money front as well.
The ISIS which is the richest terrorist outfit thanks to the oil wells it controls continued to get huge chunks of donations despite it not needing it. The Al-Qaeda on the other hand is looking desperately for funding today.
Never trust the ISI
It was a well known fact that the announcing of the AQIS had an ISI hand to it. The ISI is weary of the ISIS and wanted a relatively strong outfit in Afghanistan to fight its proxy war. The ISI senses that the ISIS may be launched in Afghanistan and if this happens then it will take over with ease.
Moreover the ISI is also aware that it will never be able to control the ISIS which is not the case the case of the Al-Qaeda.
In a bid to launch the AQIS, the ISI did initially help them plot an attack. The ploy was to take over a Pakistan ship and launch attacks on Indian and US ships. However many within the ISI betrayed Zawahiri and in the bargain the lid was blown off the Al-Qaeda operatives killed.
The ISI was divided over its support to the AQIS and has gradually realized that supporting them would not get them far as this is a declining tribe. With the support base from the ISI gone, the AQIS has more than enough to ponder over.
A miserable failure as a leader
It is strange that the once dreaded and feared Al-Qaeda today is a divided house. One leader, Zawahiri is unable to control the entire outfit. This has led to the formation of several other outfits such as the Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, the Al-Qaeda in the Sub-Continent, Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq just to name a few.
This is a clear case of desperation and a clear indication that one man is not able to control the entire outfit. He needs to rely on several operational heads and this would once again show that he has no control over his forces.
The Charlie Hebdo attack
We have said several times in the past two days that the Al-Qaeda is desperate for recognition. It will do everything to claim credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack. However none are ready to give them credit as yet.
The Al-Qaeda would not have not forgotten that it was they who had originally planned an attack of this nature called the Mickey Mouse Project on cartoonists on a Danish daily. The video issued by the Al-Qaeda yesterday claiming credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack has been certified as genuine by the US.
The video is genuine no doubt, but is the plot a genuine one too by the Al-Qaeda?