"Nothing could be further from the truth," al-Zawahiri told reporters from his three bedroom cave in Afghanistan. "You want to know how much I care about those upstarts? This much," he laughed, holding apart his forefinger and thumb. "Look, the new guy always catches everybody's attention at first. That's a given. But eventually they remember that it's good to have a steady, reliable hand on the wheel of the suicide-bomb truck."
Sipping from a glass of goat's milk ("Be sure to write 'fresh, not fermented,'" he chuckled), the terrorist CEO continued, "Just the other day, I heard some wiseguy say that ISIS was Facebook while al Qaeda was MySpace. Are you kidding? People seem to forget a little thing called 9/11. Those Islamic State upstarts are just a bunch of Mohammed-Come-Latelys. Fact is, there wouldn't be an Islamic State without al Qaeda. They don't know a Ramadan from a Ramada Inn."
Pausing to take a call from a mole deep inside the Pakistani government, al-Zawahiri returned to the subject at hand. "All those videos they release -- sure, they've got good production values and fancy-shmancy editing. But people get tired of that stuff eventually. At the end of the day, they want some substance, not headaches from all that fast MTV-style editing. And talk about old-fashioned -- since when has MTV been relevant?"
"They can't even decide what to call themselves," he sneered. "One day they're ISIL, the next day ISIS, then they're IS. What're they going to be next week? I? Aye-yi-yi?"
"Face it," al-Zawahiri concluded, "al Qaeda is a brand people trust. 'Spreading Terrorism Since 1988.' You can't beat experience, that's for sure."