The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) saw itself disavowed by al-Qaeda last year amid rising tensions with Jabhat al-Nusra, but the loss of the al-Qaeda imprimatur not only doesn’t appear to have hurt ISIS, but is hurting al-Qaeda.
That’s because ISIS is now in the process of forming what it is calling a “caliphate,” and young would-be jihadists see them as the more effective and more upwardly mobile movement than al-Qaeda, with its stogy leadership and no real territory of its own.
Al-Qaeda remains a force to be reckoned with globally, with significant affiliates like AQAP and AQIM, but ISIS has leap-frogged them both for recruits and for Western officials’ scare mongering.
The State Department is now openly saying that ISIS is “worse” than al-Qaeda, a bigger threat with a “full-blown army,” and with ISIS in control of a nation spanning much of Iraq and Syria, it’s a trend that’s only getting worse.
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