Seeing the destruction of the Islamic State caliphate, Al-Qaida silently launched a recruitment campaign amongst IS fighters in Syria in Iraq as from last summer already, according to security analysts.
The heavy losses of men, material, territory, and prestige worked in their favour, as the IS fighters lost their belief in the promises of their founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Al-Qaida started recruiting even before ISIS had lost their major cities like Mosul and Raqqa, as soon as it became clear they were being met with an army they couldn’t defeat.
One security analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declared: “It’s early days as yet but it’s pretty clear that an IS with less territory, prestige and cash will find it harder to attract recruits and pull together resources for major operations, If the people who gain from that are Al-Qaida, I don’t think anyone would describe that as an ideal outcome.”
In the Sahel region of North Africa, Al-Qaida affiliates are believed to have planned the ambush that killed four US special forces in Niger in October, strengthening their hold on northern Africa in the process.
After that success, a pro-al-Qaida newswire in Yemen called upon the “repentance” of many ISIS fighters who had been discouraged by their leaders’ religious approach and strategic planning, as it was clear as from that moment IS would be losing its strongholds soon.
Analysts also declared that extremists groups such as Boko Haram are unlikely to be influenced substantially in the short term by events in the Middle East at their borders.
Even though Boko Haram also tried to recruit Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the commander whose men are thought to have killed four US special forces in Niger, that group chose to side with Al-Qaida in the end.
Mr Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, working for the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said: “The danger to ISIS is acute. I don’t think there will be a quick break but, at some point, the pool of money is likely to run out, and for those jihadis who are committed but mercenary nonetheless, then the relationship is likely to break.”