Al Qaeda and ISIS Geographical Organization

Al Qaeda and ISIS also claim to have territorial divisions for their organizations, regions that define both military and political activities for the two groups.

Al Qaeda's regions (or aqalim, in Arabic) can only be roughly guessed, since the group has not yet put out an official map. However, many of the branches have declared the territorial extent of their region, allowing us to estimate what their map of the world must look like.

ISIS has been far more forthcoming, publishing on its websites several maps that show its vision of the world.

Figure 8. Al Qaeda’s Regions (Aqalim)

Figure 9. ISIS’s Provinces (Wilayat)

Implications. If al Qaeda is more than just a leadership "core" but consists of the command and field armies of a global organization, it is impossible to imagine defeating the group through drone strikes alone. Instead, the U.S. and others must have a strategy that takes on and defeats the branches ("affiliates") as well.