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The future of jihad: What next for ISIL and al-Qaeda?

By Tobias Feakin and Benedict Wilkinson

ISIL is a real threat and must be targeted, but al-Qaeda shouldn’t be forgotten. Indeed, al-Qaeda should remain a key focus for international counterterrorism efforts. It’s a resilient and resolute terrorist organisation, but it’s also weaker than it’s been for many years. We should use this brief opportunity to dismantle the organisation completely.

The report examines what the rise of ISIL means for al-Qaeda and how will it react. How will al-Qaeda seek to regain the oxygen of publicity that’s central to terrorist organisations if they’re to recruit, grow and, ultimately, challenge their enemies? Does the rise of ISIL signal the end of al-Qaeda or might al-Qaeda merge with ISIL, confront it head on or take some other course of action?

The authors explore four alternative futures for al-Qaeda and ISIL and conclude that a worrying scenario of ‘one-upmanship’ is likely to take place between the two organisations in which al-Qaeda pursues a campaign of international attacks in order to regain the limelight.