Princeton Committee of FPRI

The Story of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Beyond

Drawing on his new book The al-Qaeda Franchise, Barak Mendelsohn will explore al-Qaeda branching-out strategy, whereby it introduced seven franchises spread over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Although the introduction of these new branches helped al-Qaeda create a frightening image far beyond its actual capabilities, ultimately this strategy neither increased the al-Qaeda threat, nor enhanced the organization’s political objectives. Was al-Qaeda’s branching out strategy a sign of strength or a response to its decline in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks? Why has al-Qaeda formed branches in some arenas but not others? How has the rise of ISIS from an al-Qaeda branch changed the path of jihad, and what does the competition between the two movements mean for the future?

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The Story of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Beyond