Check out my new ‘Policy Watch’ for the Washington Institute: “The Islamic State’s First Colony in Libya”

As the Islamic State/ISIS continues its offensives in Iraq and Syria, it is steadily gaining support from individuals and groups around the world. Most significantly, a relatively new global jihadist group in Libya — Majlis Shura Shabab al-Islam (the Islamic Youth Shura Council), or MSSI — announced last weekend that its claimed territory in the city of Darnah was now part of the ISIS “caliphate.” Although ISIS leaders have not commented on this proclamation or formally “annexed” this land into the Islamic State, MSSI’s move suggests a potential future approach to expansion that differs from al-Qaeda’s franchising model. It could also illustrate how national borders and contiguous landmass may be irrelevant to how ISIS will grow its caliphate beyond the Levant and Mesopotamia.

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