Al-Qaeda has never broken ties with an affiliate before, but it seems that trying to keep control of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), is too much to handle. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, Ayman al-Zawahiri, emir of al-Qaeda, has officially ended its “organizational relationship” with ISIS. The move comes after months of infighting among rebel groups in northern Syria and nearly a year of (mostly) behind the scenes disagreements between al-Zawahiri and al-Baghdadi.
Al-Baghdadi is sure to have a response in the coming days, but what is unclear at this point is where his organization will fit among armed opposition groups in western Iraq and northern Syria. Moreover, it remains to be seen what the effect of this professional divorce with have on the overall narrative of the international jihad. Speculation abounds.
For as bad as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was, he only earned a strongly worded letter.