Atlantic Council Board Director Ahmed Charai writes for US News and World Report on how to combat the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:
Recent reports of the possible wounding or even death of self-proclaimed “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi demonstrate that the United States and its allies are making headway in their military struggle against the Islamic State group, even if efforts may need to be redoubled and, indeed, intensified. On the other hand, the news out of Egypt – that a potent local jihadi group has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group, becoming its first major international affiliate – as well as the Islamic State group’s beheading this past week of a fifth Western hostage, Peter Kassig, an aid worker and former U.S. Army Ranger, underscore that the political defeat of the militants is a different battle entirely. In fact, the Islamic State group has developed a complex and viable apparatus to govern the territory it controls, defend its borders, fund its administration and promote its political ideology in the global marketplace of ideas. Thus even the killing of senior Islamic State group figures will probably not bring down the robust structure which they have managed to create, let alone undermine the movement’s appeal among an apparently growing number of Muslims throughout the world.