Extreme Makeover, Jihadist Edition

Since the Islamic State made its dramatic military advance from Syria into Iraq more than a year ago — capturing Mosul and other key cities, and declaring the caliphate’s re-establishment — analysts have reached a near-consensus that the group’s emergence has devastated its parent organization, al-Qaeda. Indeed, the Islamic State has undermined al-Qaeda’s once unrivaled position as the standard-bearer of the jihadist movement, outstripping al-Qaeda’s public messaging with its robust propaganda apparatus. The Islamic State has persuaded several groups that were previously in al-Qaeda’s orbit — including Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Boko Haram — to break away and re-style themselves as provinces of the caliphate. Many analysts believe the Islamic State has become the preeminent global jihadist organization.