Last night Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn at Long War Journal gave their weekly report for John Batchelor's radio audience. (Podcast; first 2 segments.) They discussed Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. The Afghan portion is very important, as is all the information they provided about the situation in Syria. (The Iraq discussion was mostly hashing through claims related to an Iraqi air force strike on the weekend allegedly against an Islamic State convoy.) They said one thing about Islamic State (IS) in Syria that I consider critical information.
They explained that IS will wait until another jihadi group has captured territory, then IS will pop up and take the territory away from them. Of course this modus operandi takes advantage of the fact that the other group is very tired from fighting to take ground.
But there are scores of groups fighting in Syria at any one time in several parts of the country. So how does IS know which prey to stalk at just the right time?
The answer might be plumbed from studying the April 2015 SPIEGEL report on the creation of Islamic State and how it's organized -- and remembering that the former officers in Saddam Hussein's military and secret police apparatus who set up Islamic State are Baathist. I would assume that's also the case for the officers who defected from the Syrian army and police, given that the Syrian government is also Baathist.
Just feeling my way in the dark. Yet I think one thing is by now clear. For years intelligence and defense establishments the world over underestimated Islamic State.