ISIS split from al-Qaeda in 2014 and the two groups have since competed for recruits, funding, and leadership of the global jihad movement. However, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) noted that shared origins in the Muslim Brotherhood movement could allow leaders of the two groups to overcome their differences and potentially join forces.
As the progenitor of the modern Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood’s belief system fuels al-Qaeda and ISIS. The two groups share ideological roots in the writings of the late Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb, and while they can disagree on short-term goals and strategies, their similarities far outweigh their differences. Before ascending to the highest positions of ISIS and al-Qaeda, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, which served—as it does today—as a bridge between young Islamists and more violent jihadist groups.
ISIS is slowly losing its last Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and its self-proclaimed caliphate has been substantially reduced in size. Al-Qaeda, a dominant force within Syrian opposition groups, is facing pressure from the Assad regime and its allies Iran, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias.
To explore the CEP report: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Ties to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, please click here.
To explore the CEP report: Qutbism, please click here.