The Islamic State and its formerly held territory are no longer the incandescent bug lamp for the jihadist scene. The organization has lost both its caliphate and its caliph in recent months. Although its remnants in Iraq and its affiliates in countries across the globe attempt to keep its radiance bright, when looking to understand the implications of recent events in the American context, it is clear that the jihadist threat has become fractured, with new and old hazards facing the United States concurrently.
The next iteration of the jihadist movement in the United States will be, as then-National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen told Congress back in 2011, a “more diffuse and diversified threat.” This is as true today as it was almost a decade ago. The threats to the United States will be similar to those we faced before: homegrown terrorism, Americans detained overseas, those set to be released from prison and a changing online media landscape. However, with the collapse of the caliphate, the Turkish incursions into Syria, and the declaration of a new Islamic State leader, there are additional concerns, including the return of foreign fighters and a cadre of American supporters who feel like they missed their opportunity to “join the caravan” and must violently avenge its demise.