Investigators have been watchful and have not credited the Al-Qaeda for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. It is a well know fact that the Al-Qaeda is desperate for redemption and has been screaming from the roof-tops trying to take credit for the attack.
There is no doubt that the militants involved in the attack leaned towards the Al-Qaeda philosophy, but were they specifically trained for this attack in a camp in Yemen as the news goes?
It is a very delicate stage when it comes to fighting the war on terror. Terror groups today thrive on publicity and most of the material that we find on their social networking sites are aimed more at propaganda than real action.
The Al-Qaeda is desperate
It would be interesting to note here that the Al-Qaeda had an issue of their privately circulated magazine made a call to the lone wolves to carry out attacks in Europe. This issue came out just around 25 days prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack. In this edition of the magazine, the Al-Qaeda makes a call to the lone wolves to carry out strikes in Europe. It also says that American airlines should be bombed by the lone wolves.
While this does sound scary, the larger point to be noted here is that the Al-Qaeda is making a desperate attempt to stay in circulation. It does not mind if it is not part of the real action, but is content if some lone wolf carries out a strike and attributes it to them.
The Al-Qaeda appears to be trying every trick in the book. It has been finding it difficult to operate as just one outfit and hence has divided itself into various regions.
For instance, the Al-Qaeda in Yemen or the Al-Qaeda in Iraq or the Al-Qaeda in the Sub Continent. These are all attempts to stay focused in one region and one can say that the loss of Osama Bin Laden who was a centric figure is clearly hurting them.
This has led them to outsourcing terror. The Al-Qaeda does not mind if a lone wolf carries out an attack and credits it to them. The Al-Qaeda is even ready to pay them for the attack and their magazine in fact speaks of handsome rewards for lone wolves.
The prime focus of the Al-Qaeda today is to spread its ideology. The death of Bin Laden or their most influential preacher Anwar Awlaki has hurt the outfit very badly.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri as a leader today has proved to be a failure and his video messages have not got the traction that they would have expected. Counter intelligence officials point out that Zawahiri as a brand has not taken off.
He has no original content of his own and very often has been repeating what either Laden or Awlaki have already said. This has led the Al-Qaeda to spread their ideology through material that is already published. They are working hard on their social networking skills and want to out shine the ISIS to which they lost a lot of ground.
Beaten by the ISIS
The ISIS appears to have beaten the Al-Qaeda in every possible way. They beat them in Iraq and Syria and have today become a global brand. Basically what the ISIS has managed to do is create a brand image.
The Al-Qaeda which had originally proposed the establishment of a caliphate was beaten to it by the ISIS. The idea of a caliphate and a caliph to lead the group has caught the imagination of several radicals who expect that the Sharia law will govern the world.
Moreover the declaration by the ISIS to set up a Global Islamic Council has also been a run away hit and this has increased their loyalty factor as well.
Crediting Charlie Hebdo would be a blunder
When the Al-Qaeda stands today in such a weak position it would be suicidal for the security agencies to credit them with the Charlie Hebdo attack. The Charlie Hebdo attack has been termed by many radicals as an attempt to save the religion.
This is a major draw for any radical as terror battles are fought on the basic foundation of religion. Crediting the Al-Qaeda for this attack would breath life into them which they have been desperate for.
The Al-Qaeda cannot boast of any major attack in the recent past. In such an event the French investigators and especially all other western nations would do well to refrain from blindly crediting the Al-Qaeda for the Charlie Hebdo attack.