In an unprecedented insight to the future of Al Qaeda, 5 Dimensions consultants based in Dubai, with direct access to information inside the command structures of Al Qaeda have released an assessment of their future based on actual discussions between key decision makers. One key finding is “Al Qaeda to formally disband this year”.
Sources within Ahrar al-Sham in Syria stated that Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria) informed Ahrar al-Sham and other allies in Syria of its intentions to break away from al-Qaeda in an “organized” and pre planned manner, as al-Qaeda itself will announce its own disbandment this year.
They stated that their allies in Jabhat al-Nusra have told them that AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri will relinquish his authority – or what left of it – over AQ branches globally and absolve them of their allegiance to him.
The move is in response to the rising power of Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria as well as new IS incursion into Yemen. AQ and Zawahiri can no longer offer any meaningful leadership and the trend between the two strongest and largest AQ branches (al-Nusra and AQAP) is that the association with AQ is no longer an asset when it comes to local conflicts in Syria and Yemen, instead it is a hindrance and a liability.
While Zawahiri and AQ central command have been ineffective and side lined since the start of 2014 and with the rise of the IS, nevertheless they provided moral and legitimate voice for al- Nusra and AQAP in the face of IS expansion.
The immediate implication for such move (once it happens) is that al-Nusra would be free to establish wider alliances within Syria and open the door again for its plans for an Islamic Emirate in northern Syria after Idlib was taken with the help of Ahrar al-Sham.
The move will also help AQAP to abandon the al-Qaeda name and adopt once and for all the new name of “Ansar al-Sharia”. Both groups possess their own funding mechanism and have been (for several years) free financially from al-Qaeda Central Command.
Nonetheless dissolving al-Qaeda will be seen as the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for both al-Nusra and AQAP (Ansar al-Sharia). AQIM were already dissolving and merging with other regional groups across the Sahara/North African region, therefore there will be limited strategic or logistical impact from this announcement.