“What,” I sometimes ask students in a class I teach on the history of terrorism, “was the name of the Islamic State’s branch in Europe?” It is a trick question: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) never set up a full-fledged European branch. The group’s self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, knew better than to try. By 2014, when ISIS formalized its split from al Qaeda and established itself as the dominant player in the global Salafi-jihadi movement, Western security services had figured out how to make it effectively impossible for the group to establish a base of operations

Finish reading this article for free.

Enter your email and we'll send a paywall-free link directly to your inbox.

In addition to your unlocked article, you will receive our flagship weekly newsletter Foreign Affairs This Week, as well as occasional updates and offers from Foreign Affairs. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, visit our user agreement and privacy policy.

Get unlimited access to all Foreign Affairs. Subscribe now.

Are you already a subscriber? Sign in.