ISIS will not be content running a shambolic rump state in the desert.

Depressing read in the WSJ, The Caliphate Rises

In 2005, a Jordanian journalist named Fouad Hussein wrote a book on al Qaeda’s “second generation,” which focused on the thinking of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces in 2006. The book described a seven- phase plan, beginning with an “awakening” of Islamic consciousness with the September 11 attacks. Among other predictions, it foresaw an effort to “clear plans to partition Syria, Lebanon and Jordan into sectarian statelets to reshape the region.” In phase four, timed to happen between 2010 and 2013, the Arab world’s secular regimes would be toppled.

And then? Phase five would see the “declaration of the caliphate or Islamic state” sometime between 2013 and 2016. This was to be followed by “total war,” or “the beginning of the confrontation between faith and disbelief, which would begin in earnest after the establishment of the Islamic caliphate.”

None of this means that events over the past decade have been dictated by an al Qaeda master plan. But you might forgive a legion of current or would-be jihadists for thinking as much. Al Qaeda is a movement driven by a combination of fantasy and fanaticism. Events that appear to corroborate the former will inevitably fuel the latter.

The plan of phases should also serve as warning that ISIS will not be content running a shambolic rump state in the desert. The group now sits on a large arsenal of weapons along with a horde of cash and gold bullion, potentially making ISIS the world’s deadliest and richest terror organization. Though there are conflicting reports on whether ISIS has captured Iraq’s largest oil refinery at Baiji, ISIS clearly intends to seize economic assets to operate them.

With oil and tax revenue, ISIS can dispense services and finance a jihadist army. The Journal reported this week on an ISIS recruitment video that shows armed militants speaking with British and Australian accents and extolling the virtues of jihad in Syria and Iraq. ISIS now controls territory from western Syria to the suburbs of Baghdad…

A mere 13 years after the U.S. chased al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan, and a mere three years after bin Laden’s death, the terror master’s political project is returning to life on President Obama’s watch.

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