Small Wars Journal

The October 2018 Issue of the CTC Sentinel Now Online

Two Houses Divided: How Conflict in Syria Shaped the Future of Jihadism by Hassan Hassan

Abstract: With the collapse of the Islamic State’s territorial caliphate, the global jihadi movement is in a state of flux. But rather than being about to enter a period of mergers or takeovers, the global jihadi movement for the foreseeable future is likely to be led by two distinct and rival groups. While the relative fortunes of the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida have oscillated in recent years, developments in the jihadi environment in Syria have hardened longstanding differences between them in doctrine and approach. Neither group is on the brink of fracturing nor likely to accept the legitimacy of the other in the coming years. And this will sustain the divide.

A View From the CT Foxhole: Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) by Paul Cruickshank

Introduction: Michèle Coninsx was appointed Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on August 11, 2017. Ms. Coninsx took up her functions on November 2, 2017. Prior to her position at the United Nations, Ms. Coninsx was President of Eurojust—the European Union agency tasked with dealing with judicial cooperation in criminal matters—2012-2017, after having served as its vice president for five years. In addition, Ms. Coninsx was National Member for Belgium at Eurojust and Chair of Eurojust’s Counter-Terrorism Team. Before joining Eurojust, Ms. Coninsx was a Federal Prosecutor (Magistrat Fédéral) in Belgium dealing with terrorism and organized crime. She served for nine years as an expert in aviation security for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Islamic State’s Mufti on Trial: The Saga of the “Silsila ‘Ilmiyya” by Cole Bunzel

Abstract: The past year has seen the periodic arrest by the Islamic State of a number of its scholarly figures, including Abu Ya‘qub al-Maqdisi, a man described by some as the group’s “mufti.” The crackdown on these scholars has to do with an ideological rift in the Islamic State over the doctrine of takfir. Last year, an audio series called the “Silsila ‘ilmiyya” was released with the aim of putting this dispute to rest, but the infighting has persisted and, in fact, escalated, undermining the ideological integrity of a group that claims to speak with one voice.

Revisiting the Mali al-Qa`ida Playbook: How the Group is Advancing on its Goals in the Sahel by Jami Forbes

Abstract: In 2012, al-Qa`ida-affiliated militants from North Africa and the Sahel joined regional armed groups in the Tuareg rebellions in northern Mali. The goal was to create an Islamic state and combine regional grievances with broader al-Qa`ida strategic ambitions. In 2013, journalists uncovered an al-Qa`ida ‘playbook’ for Mali, which provided insight into al-Qa`ida’s goals for the country. This was outlined in a 2013 article in this publication by Pascale Combelle Siegel. In that article, Siegel argued that the playbook served as an “ominous warning” of a long-term plan by al-Qa`ida for the Sahel. Unfortunately, events validate Siegel’s warning and suggest that al-Qa`ida, through its North Africa- and West Africa-based affiliates, is advancing on the goals it set out for its movement in the region.