Mohammed al-Adnani, official spokesperson of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has repeatedly urged Muslims to carry out a jihad at home. The goal of attacking the West, ISIS says, is to eliminate the “grayzone” of moderate Islam and to force Muslims living in the West to either join ISIS or “apostasize and adopt the kufri religion.” To date, the majority of these attacks have been carried out by self-starters, or “lone wolves,” with little direction from central leadership. But it was only a matter of time before ISIS would attempt to coordinate attacks outside its territory. Indeed, U.S. and European officials say that Abu Mohammed al-Adnani’s role is to now oversee ISIS-directed attacks outside of Iraq and Syria…

ISIS is currently being contained militarily on the territory it controls and it has lost a significant fraction of its sanctuary since Operation Inherent Resolve began. But the most difficult task ahead is not containing ISIS militarily. Rather, it is to contain ISIS’s appeal among the global downtrodden, or those who imagine themselves to be fighting on their behalf. This will require, in the words of Bernard Haykel’s, “engaging in cultural and educational efforts to defeat ISIS’s ideology that sanctifies violence as the only means for Sunni empowerment and glory.” And Western governments are not equipped to do this alone. He notes, “[i]t is an effort that must emerge from within the Arab and Muslim communities.” Saudi Arabia, as the source of the “untamed Wahhabism” that underlies ISIS ideology, has an important role to play moving forward. Far more than we need their military support, we need the Arab states’ to lead the containment of ISIS ideology and to model alternative narratives.

What is to be expected going forward? ISIS will continue to pursue its two goals simultaneously, though those objectives are clearly antithetical. To one end, ISIS will continue to recruit foreign citizens for the creation of its caliphate. And to the other, it will continue to recruit volunteers to conduct attacks in the West aimed at triggering the all-out ground attack and prophesied final battle. We can expect that attacks in the West will grow more sophisticated and become more common. As an intermediate step, while ISIS exercises both of its antithetical options, the group will do its best to increase tensions between the “crusaders” and ordinary Muslims, to polarize Muslims against one another, and to incite internal divisions within the West. This is what ISIS wants. We know, because they’ve told us.