January 11, 2015: The terrorist rampage at a Paris satirical magazine left the West reeling, but the attack was also the latest salvo in a lesser known fight, the public relations war between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in which the prizes are funds from extremist benefactors around the globe and Muslim radical conscripts ready to kill and die on command.
Friday’s claim from Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that it had directed the jihadist brothers, whose commando-style raid Wednesday left 12 dead at Charlie Hebdo, would appear to be a coup for the older and more established terror network, which for much of 2014 was overshadowed as Islamic State gained momentum.
Al Qaeda’s prominence among terrorist groups, undisputed in the years following 9/11, had been largely eclipsed as the newer group, also known as ISIS, seized territory in Iraq and Syria and carried out a series of high-profile beheadings that elevated its bloody brand. The Paris operation gives Al Qaeda’s relevance a new boost, said Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
“It will accrue to their positive development in terms of financing, reputation and all that,” Emerson said. “And there’ll probably be a brigade named in the brothers’ memory.”
French-born brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi were killed Friday in the culmination of a massive manhunt when French police stormed a printing plant 25 miles northeast of Paris where they had holed up. They reportedly told victims during Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo they were with Al Qaeda, and Fox News subsequently reported that at least one of the brothers had traveled to Yemen and been in contact with terrorist training camp leaders there.