The Master Plan

ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory

In 2014, it seems that the Islamic State materialized suddenly. But for most Americans, there are still as many unknowns about the group – and their larger mark on the state of terror – as there are understandings.

What role did the Untied States play in the Islamic State’s genesis? What exactly is their relationship to homegrown terrorism and other jihadi groups like al-Qaeda? Does the group feel they are on track to achieving some long-term goal? In fact, al-Qaeda’s operations chief, Sayf al-Adl, devised a seven-stage plan for jihadis to conquer the world by 2020. This plan, which included re-establishing the Caliphate in Syria between 2013 and 2016, has proven remarkably prescient.

Drawing on large troves of recently declassified documents captured from the Islamic State and its predecessors, counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman tells the story of the organization’s complex and largely hidden past in his new book, The Master Plan: ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory. Only by understanding the Islamic State’s full history — and the strategy that drove it — can we understand the contradictions that may ultimately tear it apart.

Join New America counterterrorism research fellow Brian Fishman and NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston for a conversation about the grip that global terror still has on much of the world and the future diplomacy we’ll need to loosen its hold.


Brian Fishman  @brianfishman
Counterterrorism Research Fellow, New America
Fellow, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
Author, The Master Plan: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory

Dina Temple-Raston  @NPRDina
Correspondent, NPR
Author, The Jihad Next Door: Rogue Justice in the Age of Terror

Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Join the conversation online by using #ISISMasterPlan and by following @NewAmericaNYC.