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Al-Qaeda vs. Daesh: Front Lines in the Global Jihad

Al-Qaeda vs. Daesh: Front Lines in the Global Jihad
1 Devonshire Place, Munk School of Global Affairs, Campbell Conference Facility
Time: Dec 16th, 5:00 pm End: Dec 16th, 7:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Political Science, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), Islamic Studies, Human Geography (UTSC), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), 2000-
Panel Discussion

The Munk School of Global Affairs presents

Al-Qaeda vs. Daesh: Front Lines in the Global Jihad

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 Campus, is pleased to host a panel discussion with world-leading experts on these pressing issues.


Renad Mansour is an Academy Fellow at Chatham House in London and a Research Fellow at the Cambridge Security Initiative at Cambridge University. He specializes in the challenges of political transition and state building, and has done extensive fieldwork in both Iraq and Syria on the ethnic and sectarian factions involved in the fight. Having recently travelled through Iraq to track the Mosul offensive, Renad brings fresh insights from the field to the Munk School.

Barak Mendelsohn is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College, and a leading expert on Middle Eastern politics, terrorism, and international security. Barak's forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, "The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences" explores the proliferation of Al-Qaeda regional affiliate groups around the world, and its implications of global security.

Aisha Ahmad is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, co-director of the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative and a senior researcher at the Global Justice Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs. She has conducted research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Lebanon, and Mali. Aisha's forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, "Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power" examines the economic foundations of jihadists groups across the Muslim world.

Amarnath Amarasingam is a Fellow at The George Washington University's Program on Extremism, and Co-Directs a study of Western foreign fighters based at the University of Waterloo. He is the author of "Pain, Pride, and Politics: Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada" (2015). Amarnath is considered a leading authority on online foreign fighter radicalization, and has research interests are in terrorism, diaspora politics, post-war reconstruction, and the sociology of religion.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Aisha S. Ahmad

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