Obstacles to ISIS Expansion

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On September 21, 2014, a group of Algerian jihadists, named Jund El Khilafa (The soldiers of the Caliphate) kidnapped Hervé Gourdel, a 55-year-old French nature guide, in Djurdjura National Park in northern Algeria. Jund El Khilafa’s leader, Khaled Abu-Suleiman, had pledged allegiance to ISIS earlier that month, and three days after Gourdel’s abduction, the group published a video of his decapitation, stating that their act was in retaliation for France’s involvement in the war against ISIS in Iraq. Two months later, in November 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr El Baghdadi accepted Jund El Khilafa into his fold and officially announced, through an audio message, the creation of wilayat el Djazair, ISIS’ province in Algeria.

Faithful to its famous slogan, baqiya wa tatamaded (remaining and expanding), the Islamic State (ISIS) prioritizes expansion to new territories. One of the reasons that ISIS has targeted Algeria is due to the fact that the country has served as an important U.S. and European ally in the fight against terror in North Africa since 9/11. In addition, Algeria has a history of jihadism; hence, the group thought it would be an easy-access and easy-recruitment base.

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