Bloomberg (Aug 18) — The radical Islamic State’s advances in Iraq are strengthening its challenge to al-Qaeda in a contest for the leadership of the global jihadi movement, according to five U.S. intelligence officials.
Its territorial gains and declaration of a caliphate spanning parts of Syria and Iraq, reinforced by its use of social media to broadcast its accomplishments in many languages, are attracting recruits and even drawing defections from the leadership of the core al-Qaeda group and some affiliates, the officials told reporters at a briefing today. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence assessments.
The U.S. intelligence community thinks the Islamic State has an incentive to conduct a major terrorist strike against U.S. or European targets, in part to further assert itself as the true leader of radical Islam, the officials said. There’s evidence that the group is establishing cells beyond Iraq and Syria, they said.