On January 7th 2015, the Kouachi brothers stormed the Charlie Hebdo editorial board and attempted to kill everyone in the room. The satirical weekly newspaper was known for its controversial drawings and cartoons, approaching religions with humour and sarcasm. This led them to represent and caricature Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. For instance, in 2011 they released a special edition called “Sharia Hebdo”, in which Muhammad laughed: “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing!” A few days after the release, the newspaper office was fire-bombed. In spite of this “warning”, the cartoonists have kept drawing and caricaturing, considering themselves champions of free speech.
The more recent attacks in early January 2015 are not solely a French matter. Beyond freedom of speech and the right to blaspheme, which are the pillars of European democratic systems, this attack and the hunt that ensued highlight the globalisation of information and the threat of international terrorism. Nowadays, drawing a cartoon in Paris can trigger violent acts of hostility across the world, even pushing a Yemen-based organisation, AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), to monitor a shooting in the French capital. The shootings’ international connections are crystal-clear : three men, Cherif and Saïd Kouachi, and Amedy Coulibaly, put France under high pressure for two days, armed with Eastern Europe-made weapons which they bought in Belgium, on behalf of organisations rooted in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The ease with which the terrorists collected their weapons shows how dangerous criminal networks and trafficking are in financing this kind of attack.
The manner in which the Paris shootings were carried out demonstrates the latest mutation of Islamist-inspired international terrorism. We have to deal with two rival jihadist organisations, Al-Qaeda and the so-called “Islamic State”, which have the common goal of establishing a global caliphate but differ on the method and the means to achieve it. Their struggle for the leadership of international Islamist terrorism, of which the Charlie Hebdo attacks are the most significant recent act, reveals developments within global jihadism and the many challenges that face the intelligence and counter-terrorism services, as well as politicians in the 21st century.
Al-Qaeda back on the scene
The “Islamic State” has largely monopolised media coverage since June 2014, overshadowing the threat posed by Al-Qaeda. The proclamation of a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq has enraptured the media, intelligence services and politicians, who are more and more concerned about a new threat at the gates of Europe and NATO. This is especially urgent considering that thousands of young Europeans have joined the ranks of extremist organizations in Syria. In such a political context, Al-Qaeda has almost been forgotten. Indeed, the movement, led by the Egyptian Ayman Al-Zawahiri living hidden in the mountains in north Pakistan, had suffered some setbacks, such as repeated failed attacks in 2009 and the 2011 death of Osama bin Ladin in an American covert operation.
Signs that the Al-Qaeda leadership were nervous about their domination over global jihadism being contested had already sufraced: in September 2014, Al-Zawahiri announced the creation of a new regional branch, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, in order to regain its lustre. The 2013 summer dispute leading to a break between Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch (Al-Nusra Front) and the Iraqi branch (Islamic State in Iraq, then “Islamic State” in June 2014), has taken a toll and initiated a religious-political rivalry between the two jihadists movements. Al-Zawahiri was unpleased to see the arrival of a competitor because it undermined Al-Qaeda’s legitimacy as an effective terrorist organization. This quest for legitimacy applies as much to the deep-pockets of the Gulf as to the frustrated Sunni population in the Middle-East.
Yet, the Charlie Hebdo shootings reminded us that the “Islamic State” was not the only organisation to recruit candidates for jihadism within Western societies. Al-Qaeda still retains a considerable capacity to plan attacks with its own operatives. Seen from this angle, it is significant that Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, AQAP, has claimed responsibility for the shootings. It is the most powerful, organized and ideologically coherent of all the branches, and as such is considered the most dangerous. It is based in Yemen, the poorest country of the Arabian peninsula, taking advantage of the collapse of an already-weak State in 2011-2012 when Ali Abdallah Saleh was removed from power after a three-decade-long rule. His removal was officially signed following Arab mediation. AQAP soon proclaimed an Islamic emirate in the Abyan Governorate, east of Aden, the country’s second city, shifting from a guerrilla tactic to a logic of territorial conquest.
AQAP was formed in 2009 from a merger between the branches of Al-Qaeda in Yemen and in Saudi Arabia. Following the attacks that hit Saudi Arabia in the 2000s and the severe repression that followed, the Saudi members were forced to withdraw to the Yemeni backyard, in the South of the peninsula. They brought with them their “experts” on terror tactics, such as Ibrahim Al-Asiri, a former young Saudi chemistry student and expert on designing undetectable explosive devices. Al-Asiri was behind the foiled attack by the Nigerian Omar Abdoulmoutallab in a plane from Asterdam to Detroit in December 2009, having placed explosives in the latter’s underwear.
When the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred, AQAP was experiencing a period of uncertainty in Yemen. Its best enemy, the (Shi’a) Zaydi Houthis, are militarily expanding too, and are accused of being an Iranian proxy. The presence of these two forces in the Yemeni political and military landscape is widening the sectarian divide, suggesting further infighting and violence in the country in the coming years. This is why AQAP may have ordered the attacks in Paris, in order to gain a new internal legitimacy, galvanize its troops and intimidate its Houthi opponents, who constitute a serious threat to the jihadist organization.
AQAP and the Houthis have emerged as two powerful political and military forces, with a strong and consistent popular support, as well as tribal, political and religious background. They dominate a fragmented country where the Sanaa-based and internationally-backed President Hadi was incapable of controlling large pans of the territory before he resigned under Houthi pressures on 22nd Januard 2015. The political unity of Yemen, already undermined by a southern secessionist movement which seeks to restore the pre-1990 border, has become even more precarious since Saleh’s removal. The Houthis took advantage of the political vacuum, as well as accusations of corruption against the Sanaa government, to launch a major offensive one year ago, in January 2014. They seized large swathes of Yemeni territory, including the capital Sanaa in September, and shut down many Sunni Salafi schools that welcomed students from around the world, where Said Kouachi would have gone, along with many other French citizens. One of the most famous in Salafi circles was the Dar Al-Hadith in Dammaj, in the Northern Saada governorate. It was stormed by the Houthis in January 2014.
These radical Islamic schools are world-renowned for those wanting to learn Arabic and attend religious lessons on a radical interpretation of the Koran. In reality, these schools are barracks and serve mostly to cover the terrorist “activities” of these foreign “students”. AQAP has recruited many of its leaders and fighters from these sources, so much so that Yemeni officials estimate that 70% of AQAP leaders are of foreign origin (50% according to the US site The Long War Journal). Said Kouachi travelled alone to Yemen for the first time in 2009, where he would have attended year-long courses at Iman University in Sanaa, led by the fundamentalist preacher Abdel Majeed Al-Zindani. He likely returned there via the Sultanate of Oman in the summer of 2011, this time with his brother Cherif. They would have met there the Yemeni American-born cleric Anwar Al-Awlaqi, whose name was mentioned by Cherif in the BFM-TV news channel, and both would have received a military training program for three weeks by AQAP in the desert of Marib, east of Sanaa.
The Charlie Hebdo attacks therefore fulfilled a double objective of the central base of Al-Qaeda and its Yemeni branch: at the global level, they responded to the threat posed by the “Islamic state” for the leadership of the jihad; and at the local level, they also demonstrated its full strength before facing the Houthi in a likely confrontation around 2015-2016. In addition, Al-Qaeda leaders have welcomed with a certain relief the re-allegiance of the Yemeni branch, in a context where defections have increased in favour of the “Islamic State” – such as the former spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban, Shahidullah Shahid, and some members of AQAP. Some experts have even argued that the Saudi jihadists in the ranks of the “Islamic State” could, on their way back from Syria, “support or carry out a coup against leaders of AQAP”. No doubt the video claiming responsibility for the attack by Nasser Bin Ali Al-Anissi, an important official of AQAP, which claimed that the strike was conducted “by order of our General Emir Ayman Al-Zawahiri,” strengthened the Al-Qaeda leaders and relaunched the organisation to its supporters and in its rivalry with the “Islamic State”.
Mutations of the Islamist-inspired international terrorism
If the 2015 Paris attacks are consistent with the rivalry between Al Qaeda and the “Islamic state” for the supremacy of the jihadist movement, they also reveal, through their multifaceted features, the deep ideological and methodological differences of the two jihadist organizations. Since the return of jihad as a utopian and motivating source of legitimation of violence during the 1980s, several generations of jihadists have tried to define the best strategy to achieve their ultimate goal: the restoration of the caliphate, abolished in 1924.
Gilles Kepel’s excellent 2008 analysis covered the first two generations of jihad, while announcing the third, embodied by the “Islamic State”. The first generation was represented by the likes of the Palestinian Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, who revived the jihad as a sort of moral duty for every Muslim. Through his writings, Azzam helped to individualise and democratise jihad, giving the believer the ability to decide to leave without following the advice of a religious jurist. Therefore, thousands of volunteers, called “Afghan Arabs” converged to Afghanistan, and it is among them that the figures of bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri emerged. They formed Al-Qaeda and made it a global organisation. This second generation or “generation Al-Qaeda”, organised jihad in 1990s “crisis areas”, such as Bosnia, Algeria and Chechnya, until September 11, 2001. According to the rhetoric established by al-Zawahiri, this generation favoured the attack on the “far enemy”, that is to say, the United States and Europe, over the “near enemy”, which is at the heart of the struggle of the third generation. This includes the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and the Shiites, against which followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in 2006, will unleash all their hatred and violence during the 2000s.
The theorist of the third generation, whose founding text was translated by Kepel, is Abu Musab al-Suri, a native of Aleppo. In this text, he advocates “Islamic resistance” through the formation of small terrorist cells capable of conducting limited but highly symbolic attacks. Al-Suri noticed that the September 11 attacks, despite their spectacular and murderous features, had proved to be counterproductive as they had led to the dismantling of the territorial sanctuary that was Afghanistan under the Taliban. He also noticed that less spectacular but well-defined targets were equally effective: for example, the Madrid bombings in 2004 led to the fall of the government in Spain and the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq. The ultimate goal is to defeat the Western states and destroy their social pact by fighting them on their own territory. The killings perpetrated by Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly, as well as Mohammed Merah and Mehdi Nemmouche before them, follow this way of thinking. The objective of Al-Suri is that Muslim communities do not integrate in European societies and instead serve as a recruitment base for jihadist fighters.
Yet, it is indeed AQAP which claimed responsibility for the attacks of Charlie Hebdo, not the “Islamic State”. Again, it is significant that this it is Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch that has sponsored the attack, because it is the one that best represents these mutations of contemporary jihadism. It can afford such attacks, and its “thousand resurrections” have allowed it to adapt and review its strategies. By conducting this attack, AQAP heralds an intellectual and practical synthesis of the second and third generations: it is crystal-clear that the attacks were prepared, in terms of professionalism in military matters shown by the Kouachi brothers, and their willingness to die as martyrs, and the choice of the target, the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In 2013, the magazine’s editor Charb was placed on the list of persons to be killed in the AQAP Inspire magazine. The attack is thus in line with those previously perpetrated by Al-Qaeda. However, the bombing of Kouachi brothers also bears the mark of the third generation: the brothers are French and of Algerian origins, and acted as commandos whose purpose is not to produce a spectacular attack, but to eliminate a highly symbolic target and sow the seeds of terror in the country at very little cost.
The issue of territorial conquest is at the heart of the thought of al-Suri, because it is from “liberated” territories that jihad can take an offensive twist and carry out attacks. Hence the reproach he made against bin Laden who, by organizing the attacks against the World Trade Centre in 2001 and by attacking the “far enemy”, wiped out these sanctuaries (Afghanistan of the Taliban and “Londonistan”). So far, what distinguished Al-Qaeda and a group like the “Islamic State” was the territorial issue, which was as much an ideological difference as a methodology and a political strategy: Al-Qaeda was in a logic of guerrilla tactics, multiplying spectacular attacks against the “far enemy”; the “Islamic State” has returned to the beginning of al-Qaeda by bringing back the issue of territorial conquests as a launch pad to expand and gain power.
On this point, the names are very significant: in Arabic, al-Qaeda means “the base” from which attacks can be conducted at tens of thousands kilometres. We are dealing with a pyramid structure, where everything is organized and planned from the top of the hierarchy. The “Islamic State” works differently: its structure is horizontal, to protect itself against the killing of its leadership. The organisation’s priority is not to plan attacks against Western countries, but to fight the Arab dictators and Shiites, and to build a state. Its ambition is to offer an alternative to existing Middle East States, because it considers modern borders a colonial legacy that must be destroyed. In this respect, the territorial issue is fundamental: it serves as much an ideological project as a clear political strategy.
Nowadays, all jihadist groups have integrated this territorial strategy, whatever their affiliation. This represents a real change to the modus operandi of jihadists around the world, as it allows them to monopolize resources, manage territories and populations, and win trust and legitimacy. This logic also allows them to be self-financing, so as not to depend on the random support of States or some wealthy businessmen. Thus, we may observe a shift from a global and deterritorialized jihadism to a local, territorialized and managerial jihadism. The constant interaction between the local and the global is the new hallmark of these radical organizations.
This change was made possible especially in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” of 2011, as some states collapsed into civil war, as in Libya, Syria, or had their capacities significantly reduced, and Yemen. In some areas, the lack of stability and state-control predates 2011, as in Mali, the Sinai Desert (Egypt) and Iraq. All these countries have the common feature of hosting strong jihadist movements, claiming to be Al-Qaeda affiliates (AQIM, AQAP, Al-Nosra) or “Islamic State” branches (Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, Jund Al -Khalifa, Majlis Shura Al-Shabab Islam). These groups aim to become para-state structures, fuelled by trafficking and criminal networks. Thus, the “Islamic state” not only ensures safety and administers justice in areas under its control, but manages hospitals and retirement homes, provides electricity and oil, and reorganized the school system. Jihadi groups thrive on security and administrative vacuums in some areas to implement and impose their own political model. This also makes them more dangerous.
Where will this end?
On January 20th, 2015, a US research group SITE, which monitors terrorist activities on the web, uploaded video which featured Nasser Ben Ali Al-Anissi, the same AQAP leader who appeared in the video for Charlie Hebdo attacks. He encouraged “lone wolves” to take up arms and carry out attacks on European soil. This is a truly historic change in the strategy of Al-Qaeda. Encouraging Western nationals to take up arms and carry out attacks without proper preparation and management of the organization is a new stage in Al-Qaeda’s strategy. It re-appropriates Al-Suri’s and “Islamic State’s” guidelines in which indoctrinated individuals act unpredictably against their own country. This is a real ideological convergence process we are witnessing: despite all their differences, Al-Qaeda and “Islamic state” could become rival labels, whereby certain individuals or groups choose to act. The organization would become only a pretext to give more symbolic and media impact to a terrorist action.
In this context, it would seem that we are in a situation where, as noted by the Soufan Group, ideology is more important than affiliation. Extremist organizations currently thrive on the weaknesses of some States; despite their theological, strategic or personal quarrels, the fact remains that they are all animated by an intolerant, violent and deadly ideology, called “bin Ladin-ism”. The rivalry between the various jihadist groups should not obscure their common ideology: “Al-Nusra Front might be fighting IS in Aleppo and other towns, but it is family when it comes to ideology and one is as bad as the other”.
Affiliation is less and less important, as we can verify it in the nature and the degree of depth of the relationship between Coulibaly and the “Islamic state”. It seems that this allegiance, announced in a posthumous video, was purely opportunistic because Coulibaly wanted to give a strong media resonance to his action. It is more likely he acted for at least two reasons: repeated calls from leaders of the “Islamic State” and French jihadists in late 2014 calling for attacks in France, and his friendship with Cherif Kouachi, whom he met in prison. The second reason is probably the most convincing, since it is reported that Coulibaly helped the Kouachi brothers to acquire their equipment. It is therefore not a joint attack by Al-Qaeda and the “Islamic state”, as is claimed in the media, as the two organizations being rivals. In this case, it is their common link to a murderous ideology that is relevant, more than allegiance to their respective jihadist movements.
However, it would be wrong to speak of “lone wolves”, because these individuals were driven by the actions of these jihadist organizations and via the propaganda tools of the latter (English-speaking magazine, photos and videos posted on social networks, recruiters, etc.). Moreover, this theory conceals the fact that the recent bombers were known to police, justice and intelligence services: the Kouachi brothers were involved in the “Buttes-Chaumont” jihadist cell that sent several fighters to Iraq between 2003 and 2005, while Amedy Coulibaly has also been in prison for delinquency and for his involvement in Islamist activities. Before them, Mehdi Nemmouche has also spent time in prison, where he became radicalized, before traveling to Syria in 2013 and returning to commit the attacks on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, in May 2014. In addition, some sources have suggested a journey of the Kouachi brothers to Syria in 2012 in the ranks of Al-Nusra Front, linked to Al-Qaeda, but there is no proof yet. Investigators are wondering what was done by the two brothers between 2011, the time they were in Yemen, and the attacks in 2015. The Syrian track could be privileged: the Kouachi were familiar with jihadi circles, so it would not be surprising if they went to Syria before attacking the Charlie Hebdo’s office.
Considering the “Islamic State’s” capacity to attract and seduce recruits, it is sadly likely that other attacks will be committed on European soil. The Jewish Museum attack in Brussels by Mehdi Nemmouche, who had spent one year in the ranks of the jihadist group, could be the beginning of a long series. Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union Counter-terrorism Coordinator, is, on this point, pessimistic, recalling that it often takes a decade between the height of a conflict and its impact in terms of attacks: “What it will like in ten years? “. We remember the consequences linked to the return of the “Afghan Arabs” to their countries of origin. After leaving Afghanistan and the fight against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, many returned back home more radical than ever and trained in weapons and explosives. Other theatres of jihad raised many more recruits, such as the war in Bosnia in the mid 1990s. This trend has continued, with the French “gang of Roubaix” including djihadists who cut their teeth in Bosnia. They conducted a series of crimes and attacks in northern France up to 1996. Until then, Western countries were affected by tens of people joining the ranks of extremist organizations.
The Syrian conflict, which has started in 2011, represents a turning point. The chaos has quickly benefited the (as it was known then) “Islamic State in Iraq”, born during the American occupation. Since then, it has become simply the “Islamic State”, attracting thousands of volunteers from all over the world. This phenomenon concerns about 81 countries whose nationals have been identified in Syria. In the case of France, the senior officials talk about 1281 individuals involved in jihad. This figure includes those who are already fighting on the ground, those who are in transit, those who died or come back to France, and those who have shown a strong desire to leave. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that this is probably a low estimate, since it relies on cases identified by the intelligence services. The real figure is certainly much higher.
Now we can ask: can the “Islamic State” replace Al-Qaeda, despite the reaffirmation of the latter with the attacks of Charlie Hebdo? This is obviously difficult to answer, but it must be borne in mind that the “Islamic State” is a movement deeply rooted in modernity. It has produced numerous videos and images for propaganda purposes. It has a very modern communications strategy relying on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube), not obscure jihadist forums, as in the days of Al-Qaeda. How the group is filming its videos, underscoring powerful fighters, companionship, and strong emotions through images of explosions, is very similar to what we find in video games. This tactic is not trivial: it aims to reach a young audience, which could find a new impetus and benchmarks within a hierarchical structure. For all these reasons, the “Islamic State” has an incommensurate drawing power if we compare to all existing jihadist organizations. Geographical proximity also facilitates departures: for a European, it is very easy to travel to Syria. You just need to book a ticket to Istanbul before crossing the Turkish border by plane or bus, where smugglers and recruiters of the organization facilitate the crossing of these jihadists. Concerning Al-Qaeda, it is more difficult: Yemen is far away, and there is no such profusion of images. The “democratisation” of jihad, which was firstly theorised in the 1980s by Al-Qaeda thinkers, seems genuinely an asset for its rival, the “Islamic State”.
The “Islamic state” has built its strength on territorial conquest and the services it provides to its citizens. For now, he has not carried out attacks, because on one hand it has other priorities on the Syrian-Iraqi fronts, on the other hand it has less financial means. In reality, the jihadist organization relies on the discontent of Muslims in Europe and their willingness to destabilize their States and provide a political alternative. Hence, it is profoundly distinct from Al-Qaeda, as much at the ideological level as at the strategic level: the organization of Al-Zawahiri plans and prepares attacks against the “far enemy”, using their own nationals for over a decade, from the four Britons who committed the attacks in London in 2005 to the Kouachi brothers in 2015. This is al-Qaeda’s trademark, despite its adaptation to new forms of terrorism, whereby radicalized citizens realize small-scale, but very symbolic and politically resonant attacks.
It is still too early to say much about the 27th January 2015 attack in an hostel in Tripoli, Libya, but there are clear indications that the “Islamic State’s” Libyan branch is behind it. We can bring three levels of analysis out: at the Libyan level, the “Islamic State’s” branch might be willing to successfully assert itself in the Libyan political and military landscape; at the regional level, the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq would seek to move quickly to a success after the apparent defeat in Kobane; at the global level, we can argue that this attack in Libya was a response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and to Al-Qaeda, a part of a deadly terrorist competition.
In 2015, it will be also important to watch the Syrian civil war: this is where the two jihadist organizations formalized their breakup, and their relationship could depend on developments on the ground. The Al-Nusra Front and the “Islamic State” are so far this year the only two viable opposition forces to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, if we exclude the Kurds. Both recruited in the Sunni Arab community of the country and are profoundly hostile to each other, despite occasional alliances of independent brigades, as evidenced by the recent cooperation in Lebanon, where the army faced both Al-Nusra and “Islamic state”-affiliated brigades.
For now, both largely seek to avoid one another and are on the alert. While Al-Nusra is in the forefront against Assad forces, the “Islamic State” seeks to take advantage of the fragmentation of the rebellion and is pursuing a real strategy of communication to attract new recruits from the ranks of Al-Nusra. Whether the Assad regime falls or not, the two jihadist organizations will eventually confront each other, the “Islamic State” being inherently imperialist. It aims to establish a global caliphate by force of arms. Territorial conquest is the cornerstone of its objective. At one time or another, it will face the forces of Al-Nusra, established mainly in the north-west and south, and it is probably the result of this confrontation that will determine not only the outcome of the Syrian conflict, but also the battle for the leadership of the globalized Sunni jihad.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of ForMENA.
 ALEXANDER Harriet, « How did the Paris terrorists get hold of their weapons ? », in The Daily Telegraph, 17th January 2015. URL : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11351855/How-did-the-Paris-terrorists-get-hold-of-their-weapons.html
 « Al-Qaïda annonce la création d’une nouvelle branche sur le sous-continent indien », in Le Monde, 4th September 2014. URL : http://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2014/09/04/al-qaida-annonce-la-creation-d-une-nouvelle-branche-dans-le-sous-continent-indien_4481462_3210.html
 Elizabeth Dickinson a réalisé un rapport sur la Syrie montrant comment les financements du Golfe à des organisations extrémistes attisent les conflits sectaires : « Playing With Fire : Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risk Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home », Brookings, 16th December 2013. URL : http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2013/12/06-private-gulf-financing-syria-extremist-rebels-sectarian-conflict-dickinson
 En décembre 2013, le journaliste Georges Malbrunot le rappelait en début d’article : « il n’y a pas que la Syrie comme terre de djihad ». MALBRUNOT Georges, « Deux Français tués au djihad au Yémen », in Le Figaro, 19th December 2013. URL : http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2013/12/19/01003-20131219ARTFIG00599-deux-francais-tues-au-djihad-au-yemen.php
 BONNEFOY Laurent, « Appliquer le modèle de l’État islamique au Yémen ? », in Orient XXI, 26th August 2014. URL : http://orientxxi.info/magazine/appliquer-le-modele-de-l-etat,0656
 Zaydism is a branch of Shia Islam. Their followers recognize only five imam (« Fivers »). Most of the Shias recognize twelve imams. « Houthists » gain their name from their leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi.
 For more details on houthist offensive : BANNIER Philippe, « L’offensive houthiste redistribue les cartes au Yémen », in Institut MEDEA, 9th November 2014. URL : http://www.medea.be/2014/11/19935/
 BAFANA Haykal, « Charlie Hebdo : The French Connection in Yemen », 11th January 2015. URL : http://blog.haykal.sg/the-yemen/52-charlie-hebdo-the-french-connection-in-yemen
 MALBRUNOT Georges, « Comment Al-Qaïda s’incruste au Yémen », in Le Figaro, 11th January 2010. URL : http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2010/01/11/01003-20100111ARTFIG00348-comment-al-qaida-s-incruste-au-yemen-.php
 MATHIEU Luc, « Le Yémen repart à l’assaut d’Al-Qaeda », in Libération, 6th May 2014. URL : http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2014/05/06/le-yemen-repart-a-l-assaut-d-al-qaeda_1012055
 « Both brothers behind Paris attack had weapons training in Yemen : sources », in Reuters, 11th January 2015. URL : http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/11/us-france-shooting-yemen-idUSKBN0KK0F620150111
 ZELIN Y. Aaron, « The War between ISIS and Al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement », in The Washington Institute, June 2014. URL : http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-war-between-isis-and-al-qaeda-for-supremacy-of-the-global-jihadist
 See ROUGIER Bernard, « Le jihad en Afghanistan et l’émergence du salafisme-jihadisme », in ROUGIER Bernard (dir.), Qu’est-ce que le salafisme ?, PUF, Paris, 2008, p. 65-86.
 KEPEL Gilles, Terreur et martyre. Relever le défi de civilisation, Flammarion, Paris, 2008. See Chapter 3 « la troisième génération du djihad », p. 129-193.
 TREGAN François-Xavier, « Les mille résurrections d’AQPA », in Le Monde, 16th January 2015.
 A recent report shows that three quarters of the plots in Europe had a very low cost, less than $10,000 : OFTEDAL Emilie, « The financing of jihadi terrorist cells in Europe », Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, 6th January 2015.
 « Londonistan » refers to Islamist radical preachers in London. The network has been dismantled in 2005, following the 7th July 2005 London bombings.
 The San Remo Conference has taken into account and modified the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. For further details on the origins and the impact of the “Islamic state” in the region, see : BANNIER Philippe, L’État islamique et le bouleversement de l’ordre régional, Éditions du Cygne, Paris, 2015.
 ZELIN Y. Aaron, « The Islamic State’s Archipelago of Provinces », in The Washington Institute, 14th November 2014. URL : http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-islamic-states-archipelago-of-provinces
 The Institute for the Study of War, « ISIS Governance in Syria », Middle East Security Report 22th, July 2014. URL : http://www.understandingwar.org/report/isis-governance-syria
 « Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula Urges Muslims To Carry Out Lone-Wolf Strikes in West », in Haaretz, 21st January 2015. URL : http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/middle-east-updates/1.638207
 TSG IntelBrief, « Ideology Over Affiliation : A War of Global Terrorism », 8th Januard 2015. URL : http://soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrief-ideology-over-affiliation-a-war-of-global-terrorism/
 TSG InterBrief, « A Region Choked by bin Ladin-ism », 9th September 2014. URL : http://soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrief-a-region-choked-by-bin-ladin-ism/
 LEFEBURE Anaïs, « L’État islamique menace la France : une guerre devenue transfrontalière », in Jol Press, 22th September 2014. URL : http://www.jolpress.com/djihadistes-etat-islamique-menace-france-pays-occidentaux-guerre-transfrontaliere-article-828046.html
 HENIN Nicolas, « Quand la Syrie hystérise les djihadistes », in Le Point, n°2210, 16th Januard 2015.
 The Soufan Group, « Foreign Fighters in Syria », 2nd June 2014. URL : http://templatelab.com/foreign-fighters-in-syria-update/
 CORNEVIN Christophe, « Hausse spectaculaire du nombre de djihadistes français », in Le Figaro, 20th January 2015. URL : http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2015/01/20/01016-20150120ARTFIG00450-hausse-spectaculaire-du-nombre-de-djihadistes-francais-recenses.php
 Interview de THOMSON David, « État islamique et réseaux sociaux : comme s’ils avaient intégré Steve Jobs », in Jol Press, 27th August 2014. URL : http://www.jolpress.com/etat-islamique-reseaux-sociaux-internet-steve-jobs-article-827704.html
 « Des chefs d’al-Nosra et de l’EI parmi les jihadistes tués par l’armée à Ras Baalbeck », in L’Orient le Jour, 25th January 2015. URL : http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/907843/des-chefs-dal-nosra-et-de-lei-parmi-les-jihadistes-tues-par-larmee-a-ras-baalbeck.html