October 16, 2019

Wait Just a Minute: Graeme Woods

Journalist Graeme Wood, author of The Way of the Strangers: Encounters With the Islamic State, takes a minute to discuss the difference between ISIS and Al Qaeda, and if ISIS has truly been defeated.

Wait Just a Minute: Graeme Wood

What is the difference between ISIS and Al Qaeda?

ISIS and Al Qaeda were originally the same thing. Al Qaeda was kind of the stream from which ISIS parted. There are figures in ISIS's past who are claimed by ISIS as their forefathers like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Zarqawi was distinguished by being much more sectarian and much more violent actually than Al Qaeda was. ISIS took some of those sectarian ideological differences and said that it was obligatory to act on them. So ISIS is much less forgiving about many things.

Has ISIS been defeated?

ISIS has always been more than one thing. It's been a territorial entity, a caliphate with territory, and it's also been an idea in people's minds. And in the latter form it certainly has not been defeated. What people took away from the success of ISIS in the last few years was that if you have this idea it can cause many, many people to rally together and they can get further than almost any jihadist group has gotten before. And in that sense it still lives on in people's hearts and minds.

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