Generally, the split among different extremist-fundamentalist organizations brings on many indications. However, the intellectual and ideological indication, which is often forgotten, is the deepest and most important one. This split emphasizes the relation of these organizations with history and their need to cope with a specific reality imposed by their entourage and the outcomes they face.
Organizational and individual splits, reviews, and harmonization in violent extremist groups that showed a historic adaptation far from the call for power and history making they made with the first establishments and allegiances were reflected in three main movements: first, the Islamic Group of Egypt “Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya” in the last nineties which spent a whole decade in correcting its old misguided visions and apologizing for them; second, the Libyan fighting groups in 2009; and third, “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” in 2007, and others. These deviations indicate the shallow awareness and the invalid visions they claimed in their beginnings.
As part of harmonization, many extremists and fundamentalists have worked in politics and have participated in political parties and movements following the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011 in Egypt and Libya, after they used to expiate such practices.
Splits include all extremist fundamentalist movements and become more active amidst crises and spoils. They also can be turned into accusations, conflicts, and fighting, and transform factions into two combating parties after they were one front fighting a third side.
This kind of split has been clearly reflected among the “Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya” in Egypt, among ISIS, al-Qaeda, and “al-Nusra Front” following their conflict in April 2012 regarding the confusion over al-Nusra’s allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS or Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of al-Qaeda, the mother organization.
Many homage decisions were part of pragmatic phenomena and have been taken based on the benefits which small groups can reach by pledging allegiance to the main organizations, like the cases of the Islamic Group of Sinai and Boko Haram when they announced their homage to ISIS, which enjoys a high capacity of financial funding and media and logistic support. It is worth mentioning that similar acts occurred during Osama bin Laden’s leadership of al-Qaeda.
On Thursday, the 28th of July, Al-Nusra Front in Syria has announced its split from al-Qaeda. The announcement made by Nusra’s leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani has also included the establishment of a new group called “Fath Al Sham” front.
But Joulani or head of the new “Fath Al Sham” has announced in his first public announcement on Al-Jazeera TV that al-Qaeda has accepted and respected the split decision. The leader said that the decision came as a response to Sham people’s desire to eliminate any excuses that justify the American and Russian attacks against Muslims.
Joulani added that the new group is not linked with any external side, which is considered as an attempt to enhance the image of his group and its relation with global terrorism and to repair its position in the Syrian revolution in front of the International Coalition that insisted on calling Nusra “terrorist group” even after the split.
Joulani has insisted on highlighting the patriotism of his movement and its focus on the Syrian cause as a central one. He cited the goals of this step saying that their main goal is to work on securing the unity with other factions to encourage the Jihadists and to liberate lands of Sham from the regime rule and its supporters.
And in spite that many fighting groups have been calling Nusra to split from al-Qaeda since 2012, the front delayed its decision and finally took it urged by field’s facts following the advancement of the Russian intervention, Assad troops, and the Iranian militias in Aleppo and many other regions that were under Nusra’s control.
It is worth noting that Nusra’s step has been first greeted by the Jihadi cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.
This is how history and reality oblige closed and uncompromising extremist groups on changing their links, identities and names, noting that al-Nusra Front was initially sent by ISIS to support the Syrian people in its battle against Assad’s regime supported by the sectarian Iranian militias and now by Russia.