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Baghdadi vs. Zawahri: battle for global jihad

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of Islamic militants worldwide.
An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, consisting of former members of militias from the town of Derna, drive along a road in Derna, eastern Libya October 3, 2014. The group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on October 3, 2014 local media reported. Picture taken October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR49BS8
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Since the rise of the Islamic State (IS) this year and its proclamation of a caliphate, there has been a battle underway in the global jihad movement for leadership and loyalty between Caliph Ibrahim, also known as IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahri. Baghdadi is making important gains while Zawahri is playing a long game.

It was inevitable that once Baghdadi asserted independence of Zawahri by operating in Syria and then proclaiming himself caliph that the two would be in competition for the allegiance of jihadist groups throughout the Islamic world. What is now increasingly clear is that Baghdadi has been taking the offensive in this battle and dispatching important emissaries secretly to coax support and pledges of loyalty from key targeted groups.

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