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Sunday, July 13, 2014

AQ vs. IS: Fractures Chart Update

It's been a while since I updated the AQ Fractures chart (earlier versions here, here and here), and a great deal has happened since the last update. Most obviously, the entity formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has renamed itself the Islamic State, declared itself to be a caliphate and demanded oaths of loyalty from all other jihadist groups. Here's how that is going:

Printable PDF version can be found here.

Some notes on this chart:
  • First off, there are a lot of moving parts here, and while I did my best to capture as many as possible, I welcome feedback if something is wrong or missing. 
  • I eliminated the "loose ties" category and link and replaced "close ties" with "some ties," which were included on a subjective basis. The main reason for this is that the chart is getting too complex to visualize for at-a-glance comprehension.
  • I adjusted the size of some of the entities to reflect their significance. The Islamic State has racked up a number of pledges from tiny splinter groups, small groups no one has heard of prior to now, and groups of unproven caliber and provenance (for instance, Indonesian and Philippines groups that are not clearly derived from existing jihadi groups in the region and are listed here simply as "factions"). 
  • I tried to organize the clusters regionally. 
  • Shamukh forum has changed sides a couple times during the evolution of this chart. As of the last time I checked, it seemed to be trying to accommodate supporters of both AQ and IS. This may have already changed or may change again at a moment's notice, or it may be able to foster a diverse environment on an ongoing basis. 
  • Several small factions appear to have peeled off from Jabhat al Nusra, FSA and the Islamic Front in recent weeks. I'm not breaking them out, but it's worth noting that this is happening. 
For more on how the battle between IS and AQ is playing out in the global jihadist arena, check out my blog post from yesterday analyzing hashtag use in a social media network surrounding Syrian jihadist fundraisers: IS Backlash Spills Over on Jabhat al Nusra.

NOTE: The chart was updated 7/14/2014 to correct an errant line.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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