Jihadi Competition and Political Preferences

Tore Hamming


While known and feared as the most dangerous global jihadi group, since 2014 al-Qaida has only been involved in one attack in the West. In the same period, al-Qaida’s renegade affiliate and current competitor, the Islamic State, has organised or taken responsibility for as many as 38 attacks, thus legitimately positioning itself as the primary threat against the West and pioneer of the global jihad movement. This article argues that the contestation and competition that emerged between the two groups as a result of their split in February 2014 is part of the explanation of the dramatic change in the enemy hierarchy, or political preferences, of the two most dominant Sunni jihadi groups. Furthermore, the article explains how the inter-group competition also prompted the definition of other jihadi actors, identified as the internal enemy, into the enemy hierarchy of al-Qaida and the Islamic State, although to a different extent.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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