IS have a startlingly advanced social media campaign which they have used to convince young Muslims from every corner of the globe to rise up and fight. If the two were to combine their recruiting power their numbers could reach biblical proportions.
Al-Qaeda is already a large organisation with huge political clout in the Middle East. Because of its size and respectability it won’t be eager to leap on the IS band wagon without serious consideration. Al-Qaeda has people who it needs to please, financial backers need to know where their money is going. But the troops on the ground in Yemen and Africa already appear to be moving away from Al-Qaeda in some numbers to join IS. If this exodus from them to IS continues Al-Qaeda would be forced to join ranks with the relatively young movement to save face and maintain power.
Perhaps it is too alarmist to say that a merging of Al-Qaeda and IS could cause a full-blown world war, but with their powers entwined we could certainly be in for some extremely dark times.