And while one of their “strengths” is the fact that they’re a fairly well organized group that’s trying to establish an actual Islamic state – that’s also one of their biggest weaknesses.
You see, there are consequences to being organized. It provides targets and that creates weakness.
Ironically the lack of organization is what has made al-Qaeda difficult to defeat. Sure, they have some kind of organization, but it’s not anything on the level that ISIL has.
As they grow and establish more organization while trying to form this caliphate, they’re actually weakening themselves by having something to lose. It’s much easier to target an organized army than it is a handful of terror cells sprinkled around the globe.
It’s kind of like the cliché saying that the most dangerous person is someone with nothing to lose. Al-Qaeda is that group. Kill a few of their leaders, others just spring up to take their place. You can’t defeat al-Qaeda because there’s really nothing to “defeat.” Sure, you can weaken them, but they’ll never be truly “defeated.” Because, again, what are you defeating?
It’s not like WWII and Nazi Germany where the death of Hitler more or less meant the end of the war. We killed Osama bin Ladin, but that didn’t mean the fighting against al-Qaeda was over.
But that’s not the case with ISIL. They’re building themselves as a top to bottom militant group with the clear goal of establishing a radical Islamic-run state. They have “assets.” And by assets I mean clearly established targets. ISIL has something to lose, because they have an organized goal. And to achieve that goal they’ll have to “play by the rules” to some aspect. By that I mean they need funding, which means that funding can be targeted. They need an organized military, which is another clearly defined target. They need to start trying to establish an economy of some sort, which also opens them up for further weakness.
And like with most power hungry groups, the moment ISIL starts to weaken, the leadership structure will quickly begin to crumble. You’ll see dissension, splintering factions and infighting with the group.
For an organization like al-Qaeda who rely on single acts of terror, it only takes a handful of terrorists to be successful in killing hundreds or thousands of people. To them, that’s a success. They’re not really concerned with how many attacks are successful, as long as some of them are.
But for ISIL, it’s not about a random terror attack here and there. They have a rather lofty goal. And to achieve that goal, they have to set up some kind of a government which requires structure. And the more they try to build this caliphate, the more open they make themselves to targeted attacks on their various points of organizational infrastructure.
That’s why in the end, I believe one of ISIL’s biggest strengths is ultimately going to be one of their biggest weaknesses.
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