By ANNE BARNARD and NEIL MacFARQUHAR
The New York Times
NOV. 20, 2015
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Before the hostage crisis at a Malian hotel was over, before the gunmen had even been identified, admirers of Al Qaeda and the rival Islamic State started jostling on social media over which of the jihadist organizations was more righteous and more prominent.
One apparent supporter of Al Qaeda, whose Twitter profile suggested he could be a fighter in Syria affiliated with the group, quickly declared online that the Islamic State could “learn a thing or two” from the Mali attack, scornfully brushing off suggestions that the newer, upstart group had carried it out.
“Allahu alam” — God knows best — “they don’t operate in #Mali,” the post said. “We all know who operated there.”
Exactly a week before Friday’s siege in Bamako, Mali, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, shocked the world with attacks across Paris that killed 130 people. Militants linked to Al Qaeda took credit for the hotel attack. And while the group cited local grievances as the rationale, it was also clear that the hostage-taking played into the growing and violent rivalry between the two groups.
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