September 10, 2018
Understanding ISIS and al Qaeda
Explanations for why the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda have strengthened since 2011 include the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the failure of local governments and of coalitions and outside forces, the failure of the United States or its withdrawal from the Middle East, or societal fissures. Yet all of these explanations fail to consider the plans and actions of Salafi-jihadi groups and actors themselves.
This briefer seeks to provide the fundamentals on Salafi-jihadi groups both organizationally and as fighting groups.
Table of Contents
◊ What Has Gone Wrong Since 2011?
◊ The Usual Explanations
◊ What Are al Qaeda and ISIS Organizationally?
◊ Al Qaeda and ISIS Geographical Organization
◊ Al Qaeda and ISIS as Fighting Organizations
◊ The Strategy of al Qaeda and ISIS
◊ Military Objectives
◊ Religio-Political Objectives