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Research Report

Islamic State franchising: Tribes, transnational jihadi networks and generational shifts

Rivka Azoulay
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2015
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 45
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep05482

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 2-3)
  2. (pp. 4-4)
  3. (pp. 5-6)
  4. (pp. 7-7)
  5. (pp. 8-8)
  6. (pp. 9-9)
  7. (pp. 10-11)

    On 13 November 2014, the Islamic State (IS) Caliph al-Baghdadi issued a rare audio message, ‘Even if the disbelievers hate it’, in which he acknowledged for the first time that a number of groups in the Middle East and North Africa had pledged their allegiance to IS.¹ The statement followed a series of audio pledges of allegiance three days earlier by groups of mujahedeen in Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as by Jund al-Khilafah (Algeria) and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Sinai Peninsula). The timing and rapid confirmation of these pledges by al-Baghdadi make it likely that they were well...

  8. (pp. 12-19)

    The Islamic State can be seen a product of major geopolitical and generational changes that have recently been unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa region. The former includes 9/11, the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the election of Shia-led governments in Iraq from 2005 onwards. These developments led to the marginalisation of Iraq’s Sunna population and the imprisonment of many who later came to lead the IS. Generational changes include the process within the global jihadi movement that shifted the focus of such groups from the ‘far’ to the ‘near’ enemy, and introduced more indiscriminate violence...

  9. (pp. 20-23)

    Jihadi expert Aaron Zelin was the first to analyse the IS model of expansionism. Writing on the Monkey Cage blog for The Washington Post,43 Zelin notes that these IS expansions remind us of AQ’s announcements of franchises in the mid-2000s. At that time, AQ’s newly created franchises – al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Shahab – gave the organisation a far stretch across the Middle East and North Africa. However, far from boosting the power of the mother organisation, these franchises often became a burden. This theory was put...

  10. (pp. 24-29)

    On 10 November 2014, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) pledged its allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an audio message posted on its Twitter account. The bay’at was made by an unidentified spokesman, characteristic of the group’s opaqueness.61 The announcement followed a period of twists-and-turns in which the group expressed its sympathy for IS without pledging allegiance. Weeks earlier, the group had posted videos of beheadings of people it said were spying on it from Israel – a tactic similar to that used by IS. Moreover, since the summer of 2014, a general trend among jihadis in the Sinai/Gaza region indicates...

  11. (pp. 30-40)

    The brutal decapitation of 21 Copts on the north-western shores of Libya in a slick video – A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross (16 February)96 – by jihadis claiming to be part of IS has brought international attention on to Libya as a new territory of IS expansionism. The video is the latest and most brutal manifestation of the rise of the IS Libya branch, which has been active since October 2014.

    Establishing IS branches in Libya has been facilitated by the country’s chaotic and violent post-revolutionary period, which has been propitious to the general...

  12. (pp. 41-42)

    This report aimed to provide insights into recent IS expansion. In November 2014 IS announced the creation of provinces in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Libya and the Sinai. So far, however, only in Sinai and Libya have these branches shown a significant level of organisational structure, having adopted similar strategies as IS on the ground and the media. By comparing the different provinces, key characteristics of the IS mode of expansion can be seen in terms of objectives, conditions for cooperation, incentives and strategies. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:

    The IS mode of expansion is pragmatic and...

  13. (pp. 43-45)