For a local terrorist group, joining al-Qaida makes it harder for members to move around — and harder to raise funds openly. But, on the plus side, publicity will increase, which is good for recruitment. A link to al-Qaida may bring other monetary investment. And, seen through the eyes of would-be jihadi, Al-Qaida means prestige.In other words, the more successful Al-Qaida is perceived among fledgling terrorist groups, the more they'll want to have the same success. So, in order to gain an instant reputation of importance --- a sort of terrorist "street cred," if you will --- they attach the Al-Qaida name to their group.
"Al-Qaida, because of its perceived success — especially in Iraq — is the team you want to be on," said Daniel Benjamin, of the Brookings Institution, who was formerly a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.
The appearance of new offshoot groups across the Middle East and North Africa is good news for al-Qaida's core leadership, believed to be holed up in Pakistan, Benjamin said.
"Remember, what al-Qaida wants most is to mobilize the Muslim world. And so every time a new group signs on, particularly takes the name, then it's — it's a coup for them," Benjamin said.
And there you have it: The Al-Qaida brand is born.
Unfortunately, the longer this war in Iraq continues, hatred toward the U.S. will grow, and the stronger the Al-Qaida "brand" becomes; such that the Al-Qaida problem will not be confined to the Middle East. In fact, it's already happening:
"For many years, we had worried about the east-west axis — the threat coming from the east, be it Afghanistan, Pakistan or, even now, Iraq and the Gulf — moving to the west," [Former White House Counterterrorism Official Roger] Cressey said. "Now, what we've seen is a north-south axis — and that from North Africa, we've seen groups and individuals moving into Europe. So, in some respects, it's the worst of both worlds."Great. Now all Al-Qaida needs is a logo.