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ISIS vs. Al Qaeda: an ideological comparison

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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This paper addresses the ideological differences that drive the divergent strategies pursued by Al Qaeda and ISIS. It examines the history and ideological background that is relevant to both organizations to provide an appropriate level of context. Using a qualitative comparative case study methodology, the paper provides a detailed study of the key ideological facets that shape how Al Qaeda and ISIS formulate their respective strategies. Finally, the paper analyzes the key differences between the groups and explains how this information can be useful to operational planners. The key findings are that Al Qaeda and ISIS have fundamentally different ideological views about how to unite and purify the Islamic Umma and wage jihad, which drive vastly different strategies. The findings from this monograph can be particularly useful for future planners as they build operational approaches for combating Al Qaeda and ISIS, and for anticipating the actions of other Sunni jihadist groups.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Land Mine Warfare
  • Land Mine Warfare

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