Editor’s Note: When analysts consider how strong al-Qaeda is, much of the discussion concerns the group's relationship with its affiliate organizations in Yemen, the Maghreb, and other areas. Perhaps the most important of these organizations is, or was, its affiliate in Syria.
Pieter Van Ostaeyen studied Medieval History with a specialization in the history of the Crusades (KULeuven 1999) and Arabic and Islamic Studies, focusing on the history of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi and the Assassins (KULeuven 2003). Van Ostaeyen has been analyzing the conflict in Syria since the outset in 2011, and has reported extensively on foreign fighters and extremist groups. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Leuven researching the usage of social media in the ideological strife between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
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