This paper examines the relationship between al-Qaida in Iraq and Islamic State, asking what remains of AQI within the current incarnation of IS. The study is based on available information concerning the backgrounds and the roles of the top leaders within AQI/IS over the last ten years, with a particular focus on their respective relationship to the Baath party, AQI, and al-Qaida Central. Despite the apparent historical continuity between AQI and IS, there are several differences concerning the background and networks of the respective leaderships. A case can be made that Jabhat al-Nusra is connected to some of same regional networks that established AQI, while IS is more of an extension of the Iraqi faction within AQI and of other indigenous networks like the Baath party and other insurgent groups.
This article is part of a special issue on the Islamic State in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism, see the whole issue here.