Understanding ISIS and al Qaeda

By Mary Habeck

 

What Has Gone Wrong Since 2011?

After 2011, the fundamental landscape of the Middle East—and beyond—changed.

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The Usual Explanations

Why has Islamic extremism spread?

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What Are al Qaeda and ISIS Organizationally?

Examining the structure of al Qaeda and ISIS

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Al Qaeda and ISIS Geographical Organization

A look at the territorial divisions for the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

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Al Qaeda and ISIS as Fighting Organizations

Understanding how the extremists are organized is just part of the picture. To fully grasp the problem we face, we must also see what these groups are as military forces.

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The Strategy of al Qaeda and ISIS

A closer look at the extremists’ military-political plan shows that they have a sophisticated and staged strategy based on Mao and Muhammad, supporting once again the contention that this is an insurgent problem rather than a terrorist one.

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Military Objectives

What are the military objectives for each phase of the military-political plan?

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Religio-Political Objectives

What are the religious and political objectives for each of the phases?

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