Someone I respect greatly, who blogs as http://20committee.com/ and whom I earnestly commend to your consideration, has discussed the IS(IS) movement/Caliphate/”State” as a takfiri movement with the life expectancy inherent in being takfiri, discusses this definition here (http://20committee.com/2014/08/24/war-and-the-islamic-state/) and indicates that while the life expectancy of takfiri movements is typically fairly short as nation states/movements go, it would behoove Western States to attend to the dissolution and eradication of IS(IS) as quickly as practicable.
I would pose a question. Within the IS(IS) movement, what happens as you grow, if your growth is so rapid that you pick up saner fellow travelers who manage to co-opt your movement and turn it into a less-irrational government? What happens if these fellow travelers manage to get close enough to the levers of power in your movement, avoid your internal purity enforcement head-men and their swords, and manage to moderate and ameliorate the bloodlust that has driven your growth? What does this do to the life-cycle of your takfiri movement? While it may slow down the RATE at which your organization devours territory, it certainly won’t stop that growth, nor will it necessarily decrease the danger to neighbors or ideological targets/competing ideologies.
These movements grow primarily two ways. First by external recruitment through radicalization and providing direction to directionless youth who become True Believers (though often poorly educated in WHAT they are True Believers OF) and by capture and forced conversion/taxing etc. While we have a dearth of FORMAL studies of IS(IS) and it’s precursors (ISIL and ISIS) there have been informal investigations done which point to the younger members of IS(IS), the canon fodder and mass shooters and beheaders not being aggressive followers of Islam or any of it’s various sects. They tend to have been radicalized and indoctrinated into a grossly Wahabist FORM of Islam but are more interested in the Jihad and the fighting and dying “for the Cause” with a hazy definition of “the Cause”.
The other method of growth is by territorial (and thus residential) acquisition, taxing and/or forcing conversions. This provides population, commerce, and all the necessary functions of a “state” within the conquered areas. And here is where I believe the rub exists.
IS(IS) or, as self-styled IS or “The Caliphate” is beginning to show signs of becoming a “Legitimate” government in the areas they have conquered. (Governmental “Legitimacy,” where it comes from, its importance and issues when it is lost is a whole other diatribe, suitable for future examination) IS is acting like a government in that they are taxing commerce (often at lower rates than previously when one factors in the inherent corruption in areas where IS is flourishing. Unsurprising since that very corruption gives rise to the radicalization of the youthful canon fodder.) IS is providing power and water and other “governmental” services for the areas they have taken.
What happens to a takfiri movement when it begins to have to collect garbage, rebuild streets, and police the populace? Bureaucracy does a serious number of Jihadi bloodlust. Personal and organizational priorities change. Granted not overall, since jihad remains the raison d’etre of the organization, but does this need for management ameliorate the previous behavior of the organization? Or does it enable even bigger “events” making the jihad even more exciting or enticing for the target recruiting demographic?
Once a movement adds territory and becomes a proto-State do things have to change to continue growth? Do single beheadings become passe`? Do machine gun executions of hundreds no longer energize the not-quite-radicalized? Do suicide car bombings killing tens and twenties give way to Asymmetric Warfare attacks killing tens of thousands?
Or, does your proto-state become a State and join the congress of Nations? Both paths can be justified and both can be made to make sense.
The question reverts back to, “Does the takfiri lifecycle change when bureaucracy becomes necessary to govern as the movement grows? And does that modification make the takfiri movement more or less dangerous to the states around it or to the ideologies in competition with it?”