The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is not the only Salafi-Jihadist threat emanating from Syria. Its prominence in U.S. policy has overshadowed a threat of similar magnitude from Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), the official al-Qaeda (AQ) affiliate in Syria. JN rivals ISIS as a sophisticated, intelligent, strategic actor in the region and continues to enjoy a dangerous freedom to operate in Syria. The two groups share common goals, including a revived Islamic Caliphate.
Middle East Security Project
Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. begins his book, On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context, by relaying the following conversation: “‘You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” As much as we may not want to admit it, in this sense, our current war against al Qaeda and their ilk resembles that of Vietnam. In fighting our post- 9/11 wars, we have won nearly every battle but are far from winning the war. How can this be? The answer lies largely in the civil military nexus that underpins how America wages war.
Despite rapidly spreading reports that Egyptian Salafi-Jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, that does not appear to be the case. Initially reported by Reuters, other sources have run with the dubious story without further vetting the information.
Recent statements by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and an alleged new group called the “Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Land of Egypt” has given rise to speculation that ISIS may be seeking to expand beyond Iraq and Syria into new territories such as Egypt. This fear is compounded by the recent arrest of an individual at the Cairo airport, allegedly seeking to travel to Syria for training with ISIS.
Lauren Squires is a Research Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. Prior to joining ISW, she worked as an analyst in the intelligence community focusing on the Middle East. Before joining the government, Lauren served as an Active Duty Army officer serving on deployments to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Egypt where she was a liaison at the United States Embassy in Cairo. Her professional work has included support for multiple combatant commands, including CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and EUCOM.