How much of a terrorist threat does the Islamic State (IS) pose to Western countries? This article looks at what IS has said and done with regard to attacks in the West. We examine IS statements and take stock of IS-related attack plots in Western Europe, North America, and Australia from January 2011 through June 2015 using a new dataset of jihadi plots and a new typology of links between organizations and attackers. IS appears to have had a decentralized attack strategy based on encouraging sympathiser attacks while not mounting centrally directed operations of their own. There have also been more plots involving only IS sympathisers than plots involving returned foreign fighters. However, the organization’s formidable resources and verbal hints at future attacks give reason for vigilance.
This article is part of a special issue on the Islamic State in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism, see the whole issue here.