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From Al-Qaeda to ISIL: Continuity and Change in the Jihadist Movement

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
22nd March 2018 - Quoted by Stephen Tankel - War on the Rocks

In summer 2010, the National Intelligence Council organized a small, one-day conference with Europe-based academics to get their read on possible futures for the jihadist movement.

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Today, with the core of the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) increasingly squeezed in Syria and Iraq the jihadist movement may be facing an even bigger inflection point. Will al-Qaeda be able to regenerate and fill the void? Could another group — perhaps an ISIL or al-Qaeda affiliate, or maybe an independent actor — take the reins? Or might we witness the atomization of the jihadist movement after years in which ISIL and al-Qaeda became its competing lodestars? In either case, what would this mean for the long-running fault line between globalism and nationalism? And what of the 40,000-plus foreign fighters who flocked to Syria and Iraq, or the technological advances that ISIL exploited to recruit them and direct or inspire attacks around the world? To help clarify the problem, we brought together three scholar-practitioners — Kim Cragin, Josh Geltzer, and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross — to weigh in on what lies ahead for the jihadist movement and the threats its adherents pose.

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