According to Dr. Tricia Bacon’s and Dr. Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault’s, “Al Qaeda and the Islamic State's Break: Strategic Strife or Lackluster Leadership?,”the “strategic differences between Al Qaeda and ISIS were not sufficient to cause the split,” the strife that ensued between al Nusra and ISIS caused this complex alliance to rupture. Osama bin Laden’s effective leadership aligned a terrorist network that amassed rebel groups for the global jihadist cause. Unlike bin Laden’s elitist view to destabilize the West, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi believed the principal enemies of the jihadist movement were Shiites for their false interpretation of Islamic theology and Sunni apostates for their support of the West and corrupt Arab rulers.

In “ISIS and al-Qaeda—What Are They Thinking? Understanding the Adversary,” Dr. Bernard Haykel states that the jihadi militant movements are consequential to the Sunni revivalism experienced in the brutalized Arab politics of domestically repressed states from Algeria to Iraq, with groups seeking to empower Muslims against Islam’s enemies. Haykel later describes the relationship between ISIS and Al Qaeda as one of contentious competition for resources. Within this scholarly framework, the author uniquely addresses the remaining question of whether or not, and under what conditions, umbrella networks: ISIS and Al Qaeda, could attempt a merger.

To ascertain the pragmatism of a potential coalition, various alliance literature has been applied and assessed into three paradigms; with the first, assessing party coalitions and culture, the second addressing the alliance framework from a business perspective, and the third concentrating on partnerships and mergers. Moreover, the paper focuses on the aforementioned paradigms and various militant group case studies, with a lens that addresses the relational exchange between ISIS and Al Qaeda.



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