Anticipating Islamic State group’s next move

The past month has seen a sudden upsurge in terrorist attacks claimed by Islamic State group (ISG) beyond its main area of operations in Iraq and Syria. The attacks -- in Paris, Beirut, the Sinai, and Tunis -- raise the question of whether ISG has begun a global terrorist campaign. If so, this would represent a significant shift from its previous focus on state-building and sectarian conflict in Iraq and Syria. Is the group’s leadership planning such attacks centrally and coordinating a growing network of global affiliates in other countries to synchronise attacks and maximise impact? Or is the initiative coming from local affiliates and supporters who, emboldened by ISG propaganda, are carrying out successful attacks to escalate the violence?

In the second of our special conference calls on the Islamic State group threat, we examined these and other key questions:

  • What is ISG’s main goal? What strategy is it following? What are its operational capabilities?
  • Where does ISG have the strongest local affiliates and support base?
  • How will the competition between ISG and al-Qaida escalate? Will increased rivalry lead to more ‘spectacular’ attacks?
  • How does ISG’s strategy differ from al-Qaida’s? How does this affect what attacks we might see?
  • Where is ISG planning to expand and strengthen its reach?
  • What are the implications for security in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East?