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Opinion
Pankaj Mishra

The Real Roots of Islamic State

The group emerged as rapidly as it did because of a vacuum of authority.
Islamic State has established a sinister global appeal.

Islamic State has established a sinister global appeal.

Photographer: Daniel Sorabji/AFP/Getty Images

A Kuwaiti immigrant in London has been revealed as Islamic State’s public executioner. The news attests yet again to the sinister global appeal of al-Qaeda’s successor. But the debate about Islam, most recently provoked by a long article in The Atlantic magazine, won’t help us identify the real challenge posed by radical outfits.

Al-Qaeda's Heirs