Inside the Caliphate: Understanding ISIS | New Ideal

Elan Journo writes:

There’s a well-established pattern among political and intellectual leaders of underrating the aims, morale, and capability of the Islamist movement. And it costs us dearly. Take, for example, the following assessment of various Al Qaeda factions in Iraq. At the time, Al Qaeda was supposed to have been “decimated,” even as the group’s flag was flying in some Iraqi cities.

The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. . . . I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

These were Barack Obama’s words in a New Yorker interview published January 2014. Six months later, one Al Qaeda affiliate conquered large areas of Iraq and Syria. That group, which became widely known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, then declared itself a “caliphate.”

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