ISIS is steadily gaining strength in another Middle Eastern country while everyone looks the other way

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Will Peace Talks Lead To A Solution In Yemen Civil War?

Militants affiliating themselves with the terrorist group ISIS are taking advantage of a power vacuum in Yemen to establish an increasingly strong foothold there as the government focuses on fighting other rebels, experts say.

ISIS-linked terrorists have launched deadly attacks on mosques, carried out car bombings, and exploited sectarian tensions to lure new recruits, using extreme brutality and violence to bring in new blood and distinguish themselves from the powerful Al Qaeda branch in Yemen, The New York Times reported earlier this week.

"A video released recently by the branch underscored its determination to showcase its brutality," The Times reported. "In one section, the video shows masked gunmen leading prisoners to a small boat that was set out to sea and then blown up. Another vignette showed four captives made to wear what appeared to be mortar shells, draped around their necks, then pose for the camera before the shells were detonated."

ISIS, which is also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh, has also been able to kill some Yemeni officials without meeting much resistance from authorities, who are more concerned with fighting rebels who have an established presence in the country.

Yemen has been in a state of chaos since a civil war started there in March. A Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US, is fighting to defeat the Houthi rebels, who support Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The coalition backs the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the current president.

The civil war has created a power vacuum in some areas of Yemen where the Saudi-led coalition has driven Houthi rebels out.

That allowed ISIS an opportunity to step in. And no one seems to be targeting ISIS with enough strength to prevent the group from expanding, since the coalition is laser-focused on fighting the Houthis.

"To some extent, Yemen was always on the radar screen of ISIS as eventually part of their caliphate, but at first they were preoccupied with Syria and Iraq and had no time to invest elsewhere," Nabeel Khoury, a former State Department official in Yemen who is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider.

"But with the power vacuum, with the chaos ... that presented both an opportunity and an incentive" for ISIS, Khoury added.

Right now, ISIS seems to be focusing on establishing a solid foothold in parts of southern Yemen. (The Houthi rebels are from the north.)

ISIS will "start with Aden, other parts of the south," Khoury said. "As a combination of forces, this is driving the Houthis out of these areas. They don't have the Yemeni government and military ready to take over. So as you drive the Houthis out, you leave a relatively weak state structure ... That makes it very easy for [Al Qaeda] and ISIS to take over."

See the rise of the Islamic State in photos:

31 PHOTOS
History of Islamic State
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ISIS is steadily gaining strength in another Middle Eastern country while everyone looks the other way
FILE - In this Monday, April 19, 2010 file photo, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki holds a paper displaying photographs of a man the Iraqi government claims to be al-Qaida leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi forces killed the two top al-Qaida in Iraq leaders on April 18, 2010, allowing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to become the leader of a terror group weakened by a concerted campaign aimed at ending a Sunni insurgency in the country.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2009 file photo, guards stand at the entrance of a renovated Abu Ghraib prison, now renamed Baghdad Central Prison and run by Iraqis, in Baghdad, Iraq. A military-style assault by al-Qaida leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s fighters on two Baghdad-area prisons in July, 2013 freed more than 500 inmates.(AP Photo / Karim Kadim, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday April 21, 2010 file photo, an Iraqi military helicopter flies over the site of a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid that reportedly killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, two top-ranking al-Qaida figures, about six miles (10 kilometers) southwest of Tikrit. U.S. and Iraqi forces killed the two top al-Qaida in Iraq leaders on April 18, 2010, allowing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to become the leader of a terror group weakened by a concerted campaign aimed at ending a Sunni insurgency in the country.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2010 photo, pictures of slain Iraqi Christians are displayed during Mass at Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s al-Qaida militants attacked the church on Oct. 31 during Sunday night mass, killing 58 people in the deadliest assault targeting Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion there. The militants reportedly demand the release of Muslim women they claim were held by Egypt’s Coptic Christian church.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, Iraqis inspect the aftermath a day after a car bomb attack in a shopping area in Karradah, Baghdad, Iraq. In his first purported online message on July 21, 2012, al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi promised to regain lost ground in Iraq and calls on militants to “chase and liquidate the judges, the investigators and the guards.” Within days, his group begins a campaign of attacks, car bombings and other assaults killing hundreds.(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)
FILE - In this April 23, 2013 file photo, a suspected Yemeni al-Qaida militant, center, holds a banner as he stands behind bars during a court hearing in state security court in Sanaa, Yemen. In a competition with the Islamic State group for recruits and prestige across the Middle East, al-Qaida has sought to distinguish itself from its rival's bloodthirstiness, taking an approach that in jihadi circles would be considered pragmatic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)
A sign on the northern road exiting the town of Gao, Northern Mali, Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013, reads "welcome to the islamic state of Gao". Islamist extremists fled the city Saturday after French, Chadian and Nigerien troops arrived, ending 10 months of radical islamic control over the city.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
FILE - In this Sunday, March 30, 2014, file photo, Islamic State group militants hold up their flag as they patrol in a commandeered Iraqi military vehicle in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces swept into Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province, which Iraqi security forces had abandoned weeks earlier. That came after security forces killed demonstrators during a Sunni protest, effectively turning the unrest into an uprising.(AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this June 23, 2014, file photo, fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s fighters took over Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul in June, 2014, followed by Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and smaller communities in the Sunni heartland as government forces melt away.(AP Photo/File)
German Kreshnik B. waits for the beginning of his trial at a higher regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, Sept.15, 2014. He is accused of having been a member of the Islamic state group in Syria. He was arrested when he came back to Germany in December 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
FILE - In this Monday, June 16, 2014 file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they wave the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The IS declaration of a "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria inspired a stream of thousands of foreign fighters to join it and earned it pledges of allegiance by individual militants around the region. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, smoke billows behind an Islamic State group sign during clashes between militants from the Islamic State group and Iraqi security forces during a military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq in Diyala province, Iraq. In a competition with the Islamic State group for recruits and prestige across the Middle East, al-Qaida has sought to distinguish itself from its rival's bloodthirstiness, taking an approach that in jihadi circles would be considered pragmatic. (AP Photo, File)
A photograph on a television screen shown by Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, while he briefs the news media on operations in Syria, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
This image provided by the Department of Defense shows a image that was shown by Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, during a briefing on operations in Syria, at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)
This image provided by the Department of Defense shows a image that was shown by Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, during a briefing on operations in Syria, at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 file photo, Iraqi army soldiers deploy in front of a court run by the Islamic State group after a military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah in Diyala province, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)
Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State extremist positions in central Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Black flags used by the Islamic State group are seen over their combat positions in the Rashad Bridge, which connects the provinces of Salah al-Din and Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, checks a picture on his mobile showing Islamic State group fighters killed in fighting with Syrian Kurdish fighters, as he prepares to leave for Kobani, Syria, to rejoin the fighting, at his brother's house in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The father of two is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2014 file photo, an aircraft lands after missions targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq from the deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf. Combined U.S.-Arab airstrikes at the heart of the Islamic State group's military strongholds in Syria achieved their strategic aim of showing the extremists that their savage attacks will not go unanswered, the top American military officer said Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
In this image made from video broadcast on Egyptian state television on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, a fighter jet leaves the hangar in preparation to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya after the extremist group released a grisly video showing the beheading of several Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks. (AP Photo/Egyptian State Television via AP video)
In this image released by the Egyptian Presidency in the early hours of Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi makes a statement after militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group released a grisly video showing the beheading of several Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks. Egypt said Monday it has launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya following the release of the video, marking the first time Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighboring Libya, where extremist groups seen as a threat to both countries have taken root in recent years. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)
A man is comforted by others as he mourns over Egyptian Coptic Christians who were captured in Libya and killed by militants affiliated with the Islamic State group, outside of the Virgin Mary church in the village of el-Aour, near Minya, 220 kilometers (135 miles) south of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Egyptian warplanes struck Islamic State targets in Libya on Monday in swift retribution for the extremists' beheading of a group of Egyptian Christian hostages on a beach, shown in a grisly online video released hours earlier. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Iraqi security forces participate in a drill as U.S. forces train them in Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 21, 2015. U.S. military officials have said a coordinated military mission to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city held by the Islamic State group, will likely begin in April or May and involve up to 25,000 Iraqi troops. But the Americans have cautioned that if the Iraqis are not ready, the offensive could be delayed. Iraqi officials have backed away from setting a timeline. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Iraqi security forces participate in a drill as U.S. forces help train them in Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 21, 2015. U.S. military officials have said a coordinated military mission to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city held by the Islamic State group, will likely begin in April or May and involve up to 25,000 Iraqi troops. But the Americans have cautioned that if the Iraqis are not ready, the offensive could be delayed. Iraqi officials have backed away from setting a timeline. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
A bombs, seen top left, falls on an Islamic State position in eastern Kobani, during an airstrike by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
This picture released late Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, by an Islamic State militant-affiliated website, shows a bulldozer, background, of the Islamic State militants destroying the Saint Eliane Monastery near the town of Qaryatain which IS captured in early August, in Homs province, Syria. A priest and activists say the Islamic State group has demolished an ancient monastery in central Syria. A Christian clergyman told The Associated Press in Damascus that IS militants also wrecked a church inside the monastery that dates back to the first Christian centuries. The priest, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the monastery included an Assyrian Catholic church. (Islamic State militant website via AP)
Mourners carry the coffins of victims of Saturday's Ankara bombing attacks, during a funeral in Istanbul, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Turkish investigators are close to identifying one of the suicide bombers in Turkey's deadliest attacks in years, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday, adding that the Islamic State group was the "Number one priority" of the investigation. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Armoured police vehicles patrol as they block a road leading to the site of armed clashes with militants in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. Police raided a house used by a suspected cell of the Islamic State group triggering a clash that killed up to seven militants and two policemen, Turkish media reports said. It was not immediately clear if the operation was linked to suicide bombings of a peace rally in the capital Ankara earlier this month that killed 102 people. (AP Photo/Mahmut Bozarslan)
From left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo hold a white rose as they pay their respects to the victims of the attacks of the 13th November on the Place de la Republique prior to a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Merkel's visit to Paris is part of president Hollande's diplomatic offensive to get the international community to bolster the campaign against the Islamic State militants. (Etienne Laurent, Pool Photo via AP)
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ISIS' incentive in Yemen comes from the Houthis, whom Khoury referred to as "second cousins" of Shiites. ISIS and Al Qaeda are both Sunni extremist groups, and ISIS in particular has targeted Shiites in attacks.

The Houthi takeover of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, presented ISIS with a new target, Khoury said.

"The No. 1 target for ISIS from the beginning has been Shia governments, Shia authorities, Shia communities," Khoury said. "Houthis ... are closer to Shia Islam than they are to Sunnis. Having [Shia rebels] take over another country was a challenge that ISIS had to invest in fighting."

Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni activist who is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, echoed this assessment.

He told Business Insider the war had "created a sectarian narrative for ISIS and al Qaeda to build on."

ISIS has been known to pit Sunnis and Shiites against each other in other countries like Syria and Iraq, where the group has gained large swaths of territory.

And if the civil war in Yemen continues to drag on, young people might be persuaded to join jihadist groups, seeing few other viable alternatives for survival. Al-Muslimi wrote in The Guardian earlier this year that "as the poorest country in the Arab world is collapsing in front of the world's eyes, a whole generation of Yemeni youth and children are losing their future."

"The loss of hope among the younger generation is going to create more space and more opportunity for ISIS," al-Muslimi told Business Insider.

Survivors tell of life under ISIS rule:

28 PHOTOS
What life looks like under ISIS rule, Islamic State
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ISIS is steadily gaining strength in another Middle Eastern country while everyone looks the other way
FILE - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. slamic State militants are barricading down for a possible assault on their de facto capital Raqqa, hiding among civilian homes and preventing anyone from fleeing, as international airstrikes intensify on the Syrian city in the wake of the Paris attacks. For many, the threat of missiles and bombs from the enemies of Islamic State is more of an immediate threat than the vicious oppression of the jihadisâ themselves. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)
In this photo released on May 4, 2015, by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Islamic State militants pass by a convoy in Tel Abyad town, northeast Syria. In contrast to the failures of the Iraqi army, in Syria Kurdish fighters are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country's northeast in recent days, under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes. (Militant website via AP)
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 4, 2014, which is consistent with other AP reporting, shows Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province. For the al-Qaida breakaway group that overran parts of Iraq this week, the border between that country and Syria, where it is also fighting, may as well not even be there. The group, wants to establish a Shariah-ruled mini-state bridging both countries, in effect uniting a Sunni heartland across the center of the Mideast.
This file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows a convoy of vehicles and fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Iraq's Anbar Province. The Islamic State was originally al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, but it used Syria's civil war to vault into something more powerful. It defied orders from al-Qaida's central command and expanded its operations into Syria, ostensibly to fight to topple Assad. But it has turned mainly to conquering territory for itself, often battling other rebels who stand in the way. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Moderate Syrian rebels are buckling under the onslaught of the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Some rebels are giving up the fight, crippled by lack of weapons and frustrated with the power of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Other, more hard-line Syrian fighters are bending to the winds and joining the radicals. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)
FILE - This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the Islamic State group with truckloads of captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base in Tikrit. Iraq won the battle to retake the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State group, backed by a coalition of the unlikely in Iranian advisers, Shiite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes, but the country now faces what could be its most important battle: Winning the support of the Sunni. (AP Photo via militant website, File)
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Once a vibrant, mixed city considered a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad, the eastern city of Raqqa is now a shell of its former life, transformed by al-Qaida militants into the nucleus of the terror group's version of an Islamic caliphate they hope one day to establish in Syria and Iraq. In rare interviews with The Associated Press, residents and activists in Raqqa describe a city where fear prevails, music has been banned, Christians have to pay religious tax in return for protection and face-veiled women and pistol-wielding men in jihadi uniforms patrol the streets. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
In this May 26, 2015 photo, Bilal Abdullah poses for a portrait in the village of Eski Mosul in northern Iraq, nearly a year after Islamic State militants took over the village. In the Islamic State's realm, a document testifying that one has "repented" from a heretical past must be carried at all times and it can mean the difference between life and death. Abdullah learned that not long after the extremists took over his home village. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
In this Wednesday, May 27, 2015 photo, a girl holds a broom in the town of Eski Mosul, Iraq, which had been under the control of the Islamic State group for months. Most residents stayed in the town after it was liberated by Kurdish Peshmerga forces in January 2015. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
In this photo released on March 7, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group holds the IS flag as he dismantles a cross on the top of a church in Mosul, Iraq. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Feb. 8, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of Islamic State group's traffic police, right, writes a ticket to a driver, left, in Raqqa, Syria. Taxi drivers or motorists usually play the IS station on their radios - music, which is forbidden, can get the driver 10 lashes. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on May 4, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, people stand at the window of a media distribution point to receive CDs from Islamic State militants, right, in Mosul, Iraq. (Militant website via AP)
In this Sunday, May 17, 2015 photo, Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim poses with his son while holding an Islamic State group-issued death certificate - all that he has left of his wife, Buthaina Ibrahim, an outspoken human rights activist and official, in the village of Eski Mosul, northern Iraq. There is no grave, no idea what was done with her body after the extremists took her from their home one night and killed her in a purge after overrunning the village north of Mosul, Iraq in June 2014. Given her government ties, IS fighters quickly demanded she apply for a repentance card. "She said she'd never stoop so low," her husband said. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
In this photo released on April 30, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, new recruits of the Islamic State train in Mosul, northern Iraq. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Dec. 24, 2014 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group writes in Arabic, "we are a people whom God has honored with Islam," on a newly painted wall in Raqqa, Syria. (Militant website via AP)
In this Wednesday, May 27, 2015 photo, a resident sits on a hill overlooking the town of Eski Mosul, Iraq. The hole next to him is a former grave that was opened up by the Islamic State group militants and used as a sniper hideout. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
In this photo released on July 2, 2014 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Iraqi men gather around Islamic State group officials to sign cards testifying that they have "repented" from their heretical past, in Mosul, northern Iraq. In a series of interviews by Associated Press journalists, former prisoners and residents who lived under IS rule describe how one of the richest, most sophisticated terrorist organizations in the world accumulates money, terrifies residents, indoctrinates children and buys loyalties. (Militant website via AP)
In this Wednesday, May 27, 2015 photo, Salim Ahmed, a former Iraqi Army member, holds the "repentance card" he received from the Islamic State group in June 2014 shortly after the militants took over his home village of Eski Mosul in northern Iraq. The document is part of the apparatus of control the Islamic State group has constructed across its self-declared "caliphate," the territory it conquered in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
In this photo released on May 14, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group's vice police known as "Hisba," right, reads a verdict handed down by an Islamic court sentencing many they accused of adultery to lashing, in Raqqa City, Syria. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Jan. 14, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Islamic State militants kill a man they accused of being a homosexual by throwing him off a building in Syria's northeastern province of Hassakeh. In a series of interviews by Associated Press journalists, former prisoners and residents who lived under IS rule describe how one of the richest, most sophisticated terrorist organizations in the world accumulates money, terrifies residents, indoctrinates children and buys loyalties. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on March 7, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group destroys an icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the wall of a church in Mosul, Iraq. In a series of interviews by Associated Press journalists, former prisoners and residents who lived under IS rule describe how one of the richest, most sophisticated terrorist organizations in the world accumulates money, terrifies residents, indoctrinates children and buys loyalties. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Jan. 31, 2014 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, women in niqabs - enveloping black robes and veils that leaves only the eyes visible - sew niqabs, which are required for women in Islamic State-held territory, in a factory in Mosul, Iraq. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Feb. 10, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, two Syrian citizens, right, sit in the office of an inheritance judge of Islamic State group, in the town of al-Tabqa in Raqqa City, Syria. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on April 17, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group's vice police known as "Hisba," patrols a market in Raqqa City, Syria. The Arabic words on the vest read, "The Islamic State - Hisba (vice police)." (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on Feb. 10, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, two women sit in the office of an Islamic State group judge, center, at an Islamic court in al-Tabqa town in Raqqa City, Syria. (Militant website via AP)
In this photo released on January 31, 2014 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, members of the Islamic State group, left, distribute niqabs, enveloping black robes and veils that leave only the eyes visible, to Iraqi women in Mosul, northern Iraq. In areas controlled by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, women must not only be covered, but usually are required to wear all black, with flat-soled shoes; for men, Western clothes or hair styles _even hair gel _ can draw suspicion. (Militant website via AP)
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Khoury said the ISIS affiliate in Yemen seemed to be made up of "mostly locals" at this point. It's hard to determine how closely the ISIS militants in Yemen are coordinating with the group's central leadership in Iraq and Syria, but analysts told The Times there were signs the Yemeni militants were in touch with ISIS leaders abroad.

"They've been recruiting locally," Khoury said. "Bringing in foreign fighters from outside is very difficult these days in Yemen because of the war going on."

ISIS isn't the only Sunni extremist group with a presence in Yemen. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, remains the dominant jihadist force in the country, analysts say. But ISIS is growing in strength while AQAP remains flat.

"I think probably AQAP still has the edge for now, although that's probably changing," Khoury said. "It's kind of like a see-saw with the other side rising ... AQAP is more or less stagnant."

And as Al Qaeda's leadership in Yemen has taken hits, ISIS is trying to take advantage of another potential vacuum among jihadists in the region. AQAP is reportedly "closely watching" ISIS' efforts in Yemen as ISIS tries to "peel off defectors" from the group, according to The Times.

Al-Muslimi noted that ISIS' emergence in Yemen was fairly recent.

"With the war going on and with the Houthis increasing and moving to the south, [ISIS] started slowly emerging," al-Muslimi said.

Khoury pointed out that ISIS and AQAP appeared to be staying out of each other's way in Yemen, but they still compete for recruits.

"They're fighting for the same space: Sunni radical recruitment," al-Muslimi said, adding that Al Qaeda "looks to ISIS as something taking space and, more importantly, warriors."

"The level of brutality of ISIS has recruited a lot of people that didn't find the absolute violence in Al Qaeda," al-Muslimi said.

A history of ISIS in Syria and Turkey:

55 PHOTOS
Turkey, Syria, and ISIS fighting history
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ISIS is steadily gaining strength in another Middle Eastern country while everyone looks the other way
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, an F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, as the U.S. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, launched its first airstrikes by Turkey-based F-16 fighter jets against Islamic State targets in Syria, marking a limited escalation of a yearlong air campaign that critics have called excessively cautious. (Krystal Ardrey/U.S. Air Force via AP))
Left-wing protesters try to avoid the effects of tear gas fired by police, by burning barricades In Istanbul, Saturday, July 26, 2015, during clashes between police and people protesting against Turkey's operation against Kurdish militants. Turkey has bombed Islamic State positions near the Turkish border in Syria, also targeting Kurdish rebels in Iraq and carried out widespread police operations against suspected Kurdish and IS militants and other outlawed groups inside Turkey. (AP Photo/Cagdas Erdogan) TURKEY OUT
Turkish soldiers patrol with an armoured vehicle near the border with Syria, outside the village of Elbeyli, east of the town of Kilis, southeastern Turkey, Friday, July 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria early Friday, government officials said, a day after IS militants fired at a Turkish military outpost, killing a soldier. The bombing is a strong tactical shift for Turkey which had long been reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group. (AP Photo)
As seen from outskirts of the village of Seve, on the Turkish side of the border, a Syrian opposition group flag flies on a building in the the outskirts of the village of Havar in Syria, Friday, July 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria early Friday, government officials said, a day after IS militants fired at a Turkish military outpost, near the area of where the photo was taken, killing a soldier. The bombing is a strong tactical shift for Turkey which had long been reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Map locates Diyarbakir air base in Turkey and airstrikes in Syria. (Image via AP)
Map locates Kurds in Syria. (Image via AP)
Relatives of slain soldier Mehmet Yalcin Nane, killed Thursday by IS militants when they attacked a Turkish military outpost at the border with Syria, cry during his funeral in the town of Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Friday, July 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria early Friday, government officials said, a day after IS militants fired at a Turkish military outpost, killing Nane. The bombing is a strong tactical shift for Turkey which had long been reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Protesters run away from tear gas during a demostration in Istanbul on July 24, 2015. Turkey detained 251 people in coordinated nationwide dawn raids against suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists and Kurdish militants following a wave of deadly violence in the country, the prime minister's office said.AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Turkish riot police fire rubber bullets to disperse protesters during a demostration in Istanbul on July 24, 2015. Turkey detained 251 people in coordinated nationwide dawn raids against suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists and Kurdish militants following a wave of deadly violence in the country, the prime minister's office said.AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ADANA, TURKEY - JULY 24: A military aircraft of Turkish Air Force lands at the Incirlik 10th Tanker Base Command in Saricam district, Adana on July 24, 2015. On Friday, Turkish F-16 fighter jets hit three Daesh targets in Syria in the morning. Turkish jets carried out the operation without violating the Syrian airspace, according to a statement by the Prime Ministry. (Photo by Ibrahim Erikan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian Kurdish woman sits by the window of a house in Suruc in Turkey's Sanliurfa province near the border with Syria on June 27, 2015. Kurdish forces drove Islamic State group fighters from the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobane, after a killing spree by the jihadists left more than 200 civilians dead. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Sanliurfa province, shows a Turkish solider standing as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on June 27, 2015, a day after a deadly suicide bombing occurred. The Islamic State group killed 164 civilians in its offensive on the Kurdish town of Kobane, in what a monitor Friday called one of the jihadists' 'worst massacres' in Syria. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
KOBANE, SYRIA - JUNE 20: (TURKEY OUT) A Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG fighters stand near a check point in the outskirts of the destroyed Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, Syria. June 20, 2015. Kurdish fighters with the YPG took full control of Kobane and strategic city of Tal Abyad, dealing a major blow to the Islamic State group's ability to wage war in Syria. Mopping up operations have started to make the town safe for the return of residents from Turkey, after more than a year of Islamic State militants holding control of the town. (Photo by Ahmet Sik/Getty Images)
TAL ABYAD, SYRIA - JUNE 20: (TURKEY OUT) The picture shows the wreckage left by fighting on a street in the center of the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, Syria. June 20, 2015. Kurdish fighters with the YPG took full control of Kobane and strategic city of Tal Abyad, dealing a major blow to the Islamic State group's ability to wage war in Syria. Mopping up operations have started to make the town safe for the return of residents from Turkey, after more than a year of Islamic State militants holding control of the town. (Photo by Ahmet Sik/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - JUNE 16: Turkish soldiers patrol as Syrian refugees walk to cross the Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 16, 2015. Kurdish fighters took full control on Tuesday of the border town of Tal Abyad, dealing a major blow to the Islamic State group's ability to wage war in Syria by cutting off a vital supply line to its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. According to Turkish security officials 10,000 people to come across from Syria in last three days.(Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)
Turkish soldiers stand as smoke billows from the Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab or Kobani following the attacks by IS militants as seen from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Turkey, Thursday, June 25, 2015. Islamic State militants launched two major attacks in northern Syria on Thursday, storming government-held areas in the mostly Kurdish city of Hassakeh and pushing into Kobani — the Syrian Kurdish border town they were expelled from early this year — where they set off three cars bombs, killing and wounding dozens, activists and officials said.(AP Photo)
In this still image taken from video captured on a CCTV camera, made available Thursday, June 25, 2015, an explosion is captured by a camera on the Turkish side of the border, in the Kurdish town of Kobani, Syria. Islamic State militants staged a new attack on the Kurdish town of Kobani, which famously resisted a months-long assault by the Islamic militants. The attack involved a suicide car bombing that wounded scores. (AP Photo)
A Syrian refugee carries a sick woman on his back in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, as they flee intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants, Monday, June 15, 2015. The flow of refugees came as Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic Islamic State-held town on the Turkish border. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, Kurdish fighters with the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, wave their yellow triangular flag in the outskirts of Tal Abyad, Syria, Monday, June 15, 2015. Kurdish fighters captured large parts of the strategic border town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State group Monday, dealing a huge blow to the group which lost a key supply line for its nearby de facto capital of Raqqa, a spokesman for the main Kurdish fighting force said. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rises in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. For four months, Syrian Kurdish fighters battled Islamic State militants in the rubble-strewn streets and crumpled buildings in the town of Kobani as U.S. aircraft pounded the extremists from the skies above. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 photo, a young Kurdish fighter runs past sniper fire in the contested zone in Kobani, Syria. Here, Kurdish fighters backed by small numbers of Iraqi peshmerga forces and Syrian rebels, are locked in what they see as an existential battle against the Islamic State group, who swept into their town in mid-September as part of a summer blitz after the Islamic State group overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq. But the battle comes with an onerous price for the town’s residents. While most managed to flee across the nearby border with Turkey, some 2,000 Kurdish civilians have opted to stay with the hope that fighting will soon subside _ a shocking contrast from the population of 50,000 that once filled these streets. (AP Photo/Jake Simkin)
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014 file photo, a military plane of the US led coalition flies above the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. More than two months into its assault on Kobani, the Islamic State group still pours fighters and resources into trying to take the besieged Kurdish town, but the drive has been blunted. Aided by 270 U.S. airstrikes, the town’s determined Kurdish defenders appear to be gaining momentum, a potentially bruising reversal for the militants who only few weeks ago seemed unstoppable in their march to victory. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
A missile is fired from Islamic State positions in Kobani, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. For a force that has built its reputation on projecting an aura of momentum and invincibility, the prolonged stalemate in Kobani is a setback for Islamic State militants with potential implications in terms of recruitment and support. Nearly two months after it launched its lightning assault on the small Kurdish town, the group is bogged down with an increasingly entrenched and costly battle in which hundreds of its fighters have been killed and a good deal of its military apparatus destroyed. (AP Photo, Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
Smoke and flames rise from an Islamic State fighters position in the town of Kobani during airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from the outskirts of Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Syrian Kurdish refugees from Kobani watch fighting across the border in Kobani from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkey-Syria border, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Thick smoke and debris rise from an airstrike by the US-led coalition, as light from the explosion is seen, in Kobani, Syria while fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
FILE - In this Oct, 17, 2014, file photo, Syrian Kurdish refugees who fled fighting in Kobani, Syria, go about at a refugee camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Marking a tragic milestone, the United Nations said in a statement on Thursday, July 9, 2015 that over 4 million Syrians have fled to other countries since the outbreak of civil war in their country more than four years ago. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Turkish soldier, part of a tank unit holding their position on a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, overlooking Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, walks to members of the media to move them away from the tanks, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Heavy smoke from a fire caused by a military strike rises in Kobani, Syria, as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, Turkey, at the Turkey-Syria border, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Protesters and students of Middle East Technical University clash with riot police in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, protesting against the Islamic State group advance on the town of Kobani, Syria, and against the Turkish government. Protests have erupted against Islamic State group advances into the town of Kobani, Syria, and against the limited action by Turkey who have placed military forces to secure the border with Syria but have not engaged with the militants. (AP Photo)
A Turkish Kurd flashes the V-sign to the photographer, on a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, as he watches fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of the Islamic State group, in Kobani, Syria,Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The U.S.-led coalition pounded positions of the Islamic State group in the Syrian border town of Kobani on Thursday in some of the most intensive strikes in the air campaign so far, a Kurdish official and an activist group said. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Turkish Kurd watches as airstrikes hit Kobani, inside Syria, as fighting intensifies between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, in Mursitpinar, on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Turkish Kurd walks at Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, as smoke from a fire caused by a strike rises over Kobani, inside Syria, as fighting intensifies between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish Kurdish men, standing in the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, use binoculars to watch the fighting between militants of the Islamic State group and Kurdish forces in Kobani, Syria, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Turkish soldier carries a young Syrian Kurdish refugee to board a truck near Suruc, Turkey, after the family's arrival from Kobani, as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, is just a few hundred meters inside Syria and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish soldiers take their positions on a hill top at Mursitpinar near Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, overlooking Kobani in Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Kobani and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish army's armored vehicles stationed near the fighting positions between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State militants, about 10 kilometers in the west of Kobani in Syria, near Suruc, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. Turkey's parliament approved a motion that gives the government new powers to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq and to allow foreign forces to use its territory for possible operations against the Islamic State group(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
This Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 photo, shows a view of Hura, a Bedouin village in the Negev desert, Israel, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Othman Abu al-Qiyan, an Israeli Bedouin from Hura, was a quiet whiz kid at the top of his class in Israel who overcome tough odds in this minority Arab village to become a star medical student and hospital intern, until he joined Jihadis and found his death in Syria. Several family members said all they knew is that Abu al-Qiyan left for what he said was a vacation in Turkey with a cousin. In August, they got an anonymous call saying that he had been killed in the first wave of American air raids against the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting continues between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar, on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Kurdish Rabia Ali mourns on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, at the grave of her son Seydo Mehmud 'Curo' , a Kurdish fighter, who was killed in the fighting with the militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria, and was buried at a cemetery in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border on Tuesday, Oct. 7. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this image shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria, where fighting had been intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab and its surrounding areas have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. The flag is indicating that the jihadists may have regrouped and broken through the Kurdish lines. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish soldiers in position a few hundred meters from the border line as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State around Kobani in Syria, near Suruc, Turkey, late Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Turkey's parliament approved Thursday a motion that gives the government new powers to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq and to allow foreign forces to use its territory for possible operations against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 10: Heavy smoke from a fire caused by a strike rises in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, October 10, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)
A Turkish soldier stands on a hill, facing the Islamic State (IS) fighters' new position, 10km west of the Syrian city of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) near the Syrian border at the southeastern town of Suruc in the Sanliurfa province on October 2, 2014. Islamic State fighters were at the gates on October 2 of a key Kurdish town on the Syrian border with Turkey, whose parliament was set to vote on authorising military intervention against the jihadists. Kurdish militiamen backed by US-led air strikes were locked in fierce fighting to prevent the besieged border town of Kobane from falling to IS group fighters. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of Turkish medical service stands in the southeastern town of Suruc in the Sanliurfa province as Syrian Kurds cross the border between Syria and Turkey on October 1, 2014. Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds flooded into Turkey fleeing an onslaught by the Islamic State (IS) group that prompted an appeal for international intervention. Some of the refugees now want to return to protect their homes and join the fight against IS militants. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 29: (TURKEY OUT) Border village of Alizar residents keep guard during the night and wait in fear from mortar fired from Islamic State fighters as they tightened their siege of the strategic town of Kobani on Syria's border with Turkey on September 29, 2014 in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Tonight more than 20 mortars hit Turkey's southeastern Turkish town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Turkish troops could be used to help set up a secure zone in Syria, if there was an international agreement to establish such a haven for refugees fleeing Islamic State fighters, President Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published on Saturday. Militants still held their positions around 10 kilometres west of Kobane inside Syria, witnesses said, with Kurdish positions the last line of defence between the fighters and the town. Kobane sits on a road linking north and northwestern Syria and Kurdish control of the town has prevented Islamic State fighters from consolidating their gains, although their advance has caused more than 150,000 Kurds to flee to Turkey since last week. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 28: Smoke is seen rising from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani following an explosion that was followed by further fighting, which saw IS fighters shoot into Turkey for the first time on September 28, 2014 south of Sanliurfa, Turkey. Islamic State (IS, also called ISIS and ISIL) fighters are reportedly advancing with heavy weaponry on the strategic Kurdish border town of Kobani (also called Ayn Al-Arab), which they have surrounded on three sides. Several hundred thousand refugees are reportedly in Kobani and aid agencies are bracing for a massive exodus into Turkey. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A Kurdish boy stands as another waves to other side near the Syrian border at Suruc in Sanliurfa province, on September 25, 2014. The numbers of Kurdish refugees fleeing into Turkey to escape the advance of Islamic State jihadists in northern Syria has slowed considerably over the last few days, Turkish officials said on September 24.. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 23: (TURKEY-OUT) Smoke and dust rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 23, 2014. The Syrian town of Kobani has yet again seen fierce fighting between Islamic State and Syrian Kurdish forces. Kurdish authorities have agreed to send Peshmerga fighters to the Northern Syrian town to fight ISIL after Turkey has allowed passage. (Photo by Kutluhan Cucel/Getty Images)
ADANA, TURKEY - AUGUST 09: A military aircraft belonging to the United States Air Forces lands on the runway at Incirlik Base in Adana, Turkey on August 9, 2015. Eight military aircrafts belonging to the United States Air Forces were sent to Incirlik Base in Adana as part of the operations against Daesh. (Photo by Volkan Kasik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ADANA, TURKEY - AUGUST 09: A military aircraft belonging to the United States Air Forces lands on the runway at Incirlik Base in Adana, Turkey on August 9, 2015. Eight military aircrafts belonging to the United States Air Forces were sent to Incirlik Base in Adana as part of the operations against Daesh. (Photo by Volkan Kasik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Analysts told The Times that though AQAP was still stronger than ISIS in Yemen, ISIS might be just as pressing of a long-term concern for counterterrorism officials.

"For ISIS, it's sort of the same strategy which they've done elsewhere ... you go in where you can and you expand and you, if you can, take over central power," Khoury said. "That would be the ultimate goal.

"ISIS is about institution building ... so they will set up an infrastructure similar to what they have in Syria and Iraq and hope that eventually they can link up" any territory they're able to seize in Yemen with other parts of the caliphate, the term ISIS uses to describe the swath of territory it controls in Iraq and Syria and seeks to expand.

Khoury added: "The ultimate goal is to have one caliphate that has continuous territory."

ISIS' Yemen expansion also comes at a time when the group is reported to be preparing a "back-up capital" of sorts in Libya, in case its central base of operations in Raqqa, Syria, falls.

But the "ultimate goal" is a long way from being realized.

"In Yemen it's going to be a bit of a challenge because you have the whole Saudi expanse and they are nowhere near challenging the Saudis .... so they will not be able to use Yemen to link what they have in Iraq and Syria," Khoury said.

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ISIS's global strategy is coming into focus
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