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Al-Qaeda vs. Daesh: Front lines in the global jihad


U of T Scarborough Professor Aisha Ahmad hosts the event 'Al-Qaeda vs. Daesh: Front lines in the global jihad' at the Munk School of Global Affairs on Friday, December 16 from 5-7 p.m.

In 2014, notorious Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi announced himself the “caliph” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the sole legitimate ruler of the entire Muslim world. Baghdadi’s radical declaration created shockwaves, and threatened Al-Qaeda’s longstanding position as the leader of the global jihad. The successor to bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, immediately rejected the so-called Daesh caliphate and asked jihadists around the world to rally behind the Al-Qaeda brand. After a failed attempt at reconciliation, this standoff turned bloody. Daesh and Al-Qaeda militants turned their guns on each other in the war-ravaged battlefields of Syria.

The impact was global. Daesh quickly emerged as a powerful ideological competitor, with groups in Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan pledging fealty to Baghdadi. As jihadists around the world bent the knee to the so-called caliph, Daesh declared these groups “provinces” of their radical state. Al-Qaeda franchises around the world saw this expansion as a threat to their global brand, and pushed back against Daesh forcefully in a violent bid for power and authority.

Understanding this conflict between Al-Qaeda and Daesh is essential to mapping the front lines of the global jihad. What are the ideological and political differences between Al-Qaeda and Daesh? Are these groups irreconcilable, or is a future merger a possibility? What exactly are these regional provinces and franchises, and do they truly represent a global movement? Which of these groups is more competitive, and how can we expect these networks to transform in the coming years?

To address these critical questions, the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative at the Munk School of Global Affairs, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Scarborough, is pleased to host a panel discussion with world-leading experts on these pressing issues.

Learn more about this event here and register now.

© University of Toronto Scarborough