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September 3, 2014 10:45 AM

Why Islamic State is goading U.S.

It’s a little hard to figure out the Islamic State’s strategy following its second videotaped execution of an American citizen in less than a month. Over the last two years, the group has shown impressive strategic acumen, growing into the world’s wealthiest terrorist group and something close to a viable theocratic state. It has achieved those aims via a strategy of gaining and consolidating control within Iraq and Syria — two of the world’s most unstable states — while, unlike al-Qaida, avoiding action that would provoke a major U.S. response.

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