Meet ISIL’s Most Dangerous Affiliates

With startling speed, the Middle Eastern terrorist organization known as ISIL has burst into the local news in Western nations, associated with attacks in Paris and now, if indirectly, with the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

This might have shocked Americans and Parisians for whom the group was long a distant-sounding threat, but for close observers of the organization, ISIL’s global strategy should come as no surprise. In fact, ISIL has pursued an international expansion campaign from the moment it declared its “caliphate” in June 2014. While the group solidifies its proto-state in parts of Iraq and Syria, it also is expanding its would-be caliphate regionally—and preparing for the apocalyptic war it desires with the West.

To do that, it’s fostering affiliates in Muslim-majority areas and directing and inspiring terror attacks in the wider world. And for the U.S., this means that defeating ISIL will require not just combatting the group in Iraq and Syria, and countering its messaging and recruitment of foreign fighters. It also will require serious attention to ISIL’s growing affiliates in other nations....