Recent Attacks Illuminate the Islamic State’s Europe Attack Network

The recent major terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels represent a watershed moment not just for the Islamic State (IS), but for the entire jihadist movement. The attacks mark the first time that a single jihadist network has succeeded in carrying out two separate mass casualty attacks in Europe. In the past, when jihadist networks struck in Europe, they were pursued with the full weight of European security and intelligence services and all relevant perpetrators were neutralized before they could mount a second attack.

IS’s successes are the result of a complex strategy executed by officials in the Amn al-Kharji, a shadowy wing of IS’s bureaucracy responsible for selecting and training external operatives and for planning terrorist attacks in areas outside of IS’s core territory, including those within European borders.