Policymakers and terrorism scholars are debating whether al Qaeda or Islamic State is the more dangerous threat to the United States and the West.
How important is a name to a terrorist group’s identity? When the militant organization Nusra Front announced recently that it was calling itself something else, analysts had good reason to be skeptical about whether the new label really did signal a genuine break from its parent organization al Qaeda. In fact, it probably doesn’t matter. Even if symbolic, the mere rebranding of Nusra could be enough to prolong Syria’s civil war.
Many experts are now speculating that Islamic State is experiencing its death knell. It is losing territory, its finances are being drained and the number of foreign fighters recruited has reportedly dropped by as much as 90 percent, from a high of 2,000 a month in the past year.