The Islamic State’s lightning spread over vast swaths of land in the Middle East, and its shocking brutality to the conquered is finally turning the heads of world leaders. It is fast becoming the premier radical Islamist organisation around the world; its military prowess and rapid expanse has drawn quite a few terror outfits to its fold. Al Qaeda – harried and battered – is still firmly established, with a decade’s worth of operations and infrastructure in place, it is not going to let the crown go so easily. It appears that the Islamic State’s bid to increase influence in Pakistan has not gone unnoticed and Al-Qaeda has thrown down the gauntlet to maintain its dominance.

After the Islamic state distributed leaflets in Peshawar and the land around the Afghan-Pakistan border Al Qaeda has released a video announcing the establishment of a new branch on the Indian subcontinent. Their leader, Ayman al-Zawahri wants to revive jihadist activity "in a region that was once part of the land of Muslims, until the infidel enemy occupied it and fragmented it and split it”. Many foreign policy experts have dubbed this a “publicity stunt” aimed at countering the narrative Islamic State is propagating. Having its leaders targeted by drones and its capabilities severely damaged by military operations, this is supposed to be a restatement of intent, a reminder that it is still active.

Al Qaeda seems to have the upper hand with its various splinters and militias in our region. Firstly the Afghan Taliban are working to overthrow the Afghani government. Although brutal and violent itself, they are not averse to negotiations and have no ambitions outside the region. Secondly the Afghan Taliban have strong ties with Al Qaeda, with al-Zawahri pledging its allegiance to Mullah Omar, who is considered the true Caliph by many Afghani and Pakistani militant groups. It seems unlikely that TTP or the Afghan Taliban could serve as an entry for the Islamic state into the region.

On the flip side, the ballooning notoriety of the Islamic State can lure smaller groups towards it. With greater splintering in the TTP ranks it is possible that some might consider pledging themselves to IS. The recent  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) decision to break ranks with Al Qaeda demonstrates that perhaps IS’s influence and appeal is at the point where serious terror outfits see real value in declaring their support for the caliphate. While the effects of this popularity contest are not immediately clear, what is clear that security forces must stay on high alert.