Jihadi-Salafi Rebellion and the Crisis of Authority

Part of: Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings

In Chapter 2 of Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings, Haim Malka argues that jihadi-salafists are facing a crisis of authority, sparked by the Islamic State’s rebellion against al Qaeda’s leadership. Just as Osama bin Laden’s decision to attack the United States signaled a dramatic shift in jihadi-salafi goals more than a decade ago, the Islamic State’s disregard for al Qaeda’s leadership, rejection of its strategy, and declaration of the caliphate is reshaping the jihadi-salafi landscape today. The schism splitting the jihadi-salafi community is unlikely to be resolved in any conclusive way. Instead, pressure will mount for al Qaeda affiliates and other jihadi-salafists to choose sides in an increasingly polarized struggle that will define the movement for the next generation.