The latest three messages from al-Qaeda addressing the Sunni community uncover the depth of the crisis that al-Qaeda is facing in its former host community.
The threatening tone of the missives from the alleged Abu Omar Baghdadi and Aby Ayyub, and the insulting tone of the second by Zawahiri, reflect mistrust, anxiety and a dire need to retrieve what was lost.
Death threats do not represent a serious call for cooperation on an achievable objective. This “work-for-me-or-I-kill-you” tone is completely different from the usual recruiting slogans that have focused on the ideology of fighting for absolute truth against absolute evil.
Those slogans have failed, which is why they have been discarded and replaced by threats and an effort to seek out third parties to render verdicts on disagreements, which is what Baghdadi alluded to when he proposed that some (not all!) Sunni clerics come forward to mediate between al-Qaeda and the public.
This call for mediation indicates first, that al-Qaeda has lost direct contact with the public and second, that there are still some clerics involved with al-Qaeda.