ISIS, Al Qaeda battle for influence in Middle East

James Phillips and Ilan Berman on the terror group gaining support


While ISIS battles for control in Syria and Iraq, the terror group is finding itself increasingly at odds with other militants in the region, according to top foreign policy analysts.

Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to the Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips and the American Foreign Policy Council’s Ilan Berman about this development.

While ISIS ground movements might have slowed, Phillips believes the terrorists are looking for a new strategy. “Ideologically, they are on the march and perhaps ambitiously seeking to eclipse Al Qaeda as [the] core group.”

There is debate over whether regional terror groups are fighting among themselves to gain greater influence over strategy.

“ISIS is actually fighting two wars simultaneously. It’s fighting a kinetic war against the United States, the Assad regime in Syria, and Kurdish Peshmerga, but it’s also fighting an intellectual war against Al Qaeda, against the group it sprang from,” said Berman.

He added that [ISIS leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi’s message suggests “that Al Qaeda is the past, we are now the future and they are winning as more and more groups break away from Al Qaeda and are now pledging allegiance to ISIS.”

The latest example is an American oil worker killed by the Egyptian terror group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. This comes only weeks after the organization pledged allegiance to ISIS.

“Groups that were previously linked to Al Qaeda are beginning to look at ISIS being ascended ideologically and beginning to shift allegiances … it’s certainly a concern for Al Qaeda and for us too,” said Berman.

“[ISIS] has more economic backing now than Al Qaeda ever had, so other groups around the Middle East, around the globe, are starting to see ISIS as a potential ‘sugar daddy’ whereas before they might have looked to the Al Qaeda core group,” said Phillips.

Chris Snyder is a producer for Fox News based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox