Al-Qaeda could be preparing to launch own ‘Islamic State’ in Syria after exploiting world’s focus on Isis

Al-Qaeda could be preparing to declare its own sovereign state in Syria after quietly gathering strength in the shadow of the international campaign against Isis, an analyst has warned.

Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said that after five years building its power base in the midst of the civil war leaders are moving to create a new “Islamic emirate”.

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine he said Jabhat al-Nusra – the al-Qaeda affiliate that was linked with Isis until a bitter split in 2013 – had been building local support and influence in its territories.