When Jihadis Kill Jihadis: The Implications of Militant Infighting

When Jihadis Kill Jihadis: The Implications of Militant Infighting
Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walk inside the stadium that was the site of Islamic State fighters’ last stand in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

This week’s attack against a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, by a radicalized French Muslim illustrates that jihadis, or militant Islamists, still pose a serious threat to national security in the U.S. and Europe.

But since late 2013, jihadis have also become a threat to other jihadis, regularly killing each other on battlefields across the Middle East in numbers that have observers talking about a jihadi civil war. In Syria, armed rebels affiliated with al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State continue to fight each other, while the most potent force battling the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan is the Taliban. To Western ears, this sounds like a good development. After all, our enemies are busy killing one another rather than turning their guns on us.

Though predictions that the jihadis might be headed toward self-destruction are overblown, the infighting does have a detrimental impact on the broader jihadi movement.

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