CTC Sentinel: What to Make of the Bay`a in North Africa
Because of its formal structure and its contractual character, assessing who has pledged the bay`a to the Islamic State and whose bay`a the Islamic State has accepted appears at first blush to be a handy means to assess the Islamic State’s popularity, strength, and reach. However, the bay`a in North Africa has a different historical context and contemporary frame of reference than it does elsewhere in the Muslim world and particularly in the Levant and Iraq where the Islamic State has its origins. As a result, the topology of North African jihadi groups resists easy mapping and the convenience of the bay`a. The bay`a as a metric for gauging the expansion of the Islamic State and the threat of jihadi terrorism in North Africa is useful, but not exclusively so. The tragic attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis is ample evidence of this.