Islamic State’s caliphate – the idea of a land ruled by its radical
interpretation of Islamic law – ended with US-led coalition campaigns in Iraq
and Syria, the group is very much alive and regrouping in Iraq, Syria, and
Afghanistan. And its alliances with extremist groups internationally show that
the group is adaptable, strategic, and not going anywhere soon.
vacuums in Syria and Iraq have allowed ISIS fighters to regroup, and they pose
a renewed risk to the region’s stability. But it’s not just Iraq and Syria –
ISIS is active in countries all over the world, and in some places it’s
Democratic Forces, a US-backed group, was able to defeat a significantly
weakened ISIS, which lost its de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa, in
peak, ISIS controlled major cities including Raqqa and Mosul and Fallujah,
Iraq. It controlled more than 100,000 square kilometres and about 11 million people
in Iraq and Syria during its peak in 2014, according to the RAND Corporation.
blistering Pentagon report blamed Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria
and cut diplomatic staff in Iraq for the resurgence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
While the group
looks different, it’s able to earn money and recruit combatants. The Pentagon
report estimates that between 14,000 and 18,000 ISIS combatants remain, and
they are carrying out suicide attacks, assassinations, crop burnings, and
ambushes in Syria and Iraq.
also concerns that ISIS may be growing in Syria’s Al-Hol refugee camp, where as
many as 70,000 Syrians live in dire conditions. Families who formerly belonged
to ISIS, including foreign fighters who came to the region to join the
caliphate, are housed here, where experts fear the group can rebuild and
established safe havens in the mountains of Iraq, and has caused “mass civilian
displacement” there, according to the Pentagon’s report. It’s also working to
decrease government stability and increase civlian distrust of the government
by carrying out targeted assassinations of local officials.
group strengthening, Iraq’s security forces don’t have the capability or
infrastructure to fend off ISIS attacks for sustained periods of time, and the
government can’t access rural areas where ISIS support among civilians is
Pentagon warns of a significant insurgency in Iraq “in the coming months.”
ISIS-Khorasan, the Islamic State wages attacks against civilians in
Afghanistan, the most recent a suicide bombing of a wedding in Kabul that left
estimates that it has between 2,000 and 4,000 fighters, and is in competition
with the Taliban for recruits, with many former Taliban joining ISIS-K to
fulfill their desire for jihad as the Taliban becomes an increasingly political
security experts warn that ISIS-K is a grave threat to the US and other Western
should be very concerned about ISIS using Afghanistan to stage attacks on the
West,” Jennifer Cafarella, Research Director at the Institute for the Study of
War, previously told Insider.
conduct of external attacks is core to the very nature of the ISIS
organization, and the provinces ISIS creates abroad do adopt this goal.”
a universe of relationships with other militant organizations across
Afghanistan and Pakistan which provide it with ideological, logistical and
operational support,” Amira Jadoon, an expert on terrorism at the Combatting
Terrorism Center at West Point, told Insider, increasing the group’s reach
throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan.
with groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Lashkar-e-Islam provide
ISIS-K with support, whether it’s ideological, material in terms of weapons or
manpower, or logistical – staging attacks together.
approximately 3,500-5,000 members and maintains support from ISIS, which Crisis
Group reports has provided ISWAP with trainings and claims ISWAP’s targets
(mostly the Nigerian government and military) as its own.
popular support, particularly in places where the government cannot provide
support like healthcare.
Islamic State in Somalia is reported to have only a few hundred members,
according to the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, it’s made gains
against its regional terrorist rival, al-Qaeda-backed Al-Shabaab.
State in Somalia has begun collecting revenue by means of taxation and
extortion, and claimed 66 operations in Somalia in 2018, more than in the
previous two years combined. It has also made inroads in Mogadishu, outside its
base in the north of Somalia. It has drawn at least one US resident who
allegedly planned to head to Somalia to fight for IS there before he was
arrested by US law enforcement.
unclear if Islamic State in Somalia can keep up the pace of its expansion in
the face of pushback from Al-Shabaab, its rapid gains are troubling.
Mindanao island chain in the Philippines is considered the Islamic State’s
eastern province, carrying out a bombing on a Catholic church in January 2019,
despite Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte saying that the group had been
defeated in the Philippines.
money coming into the Philippines, and they are recruiting fighters,” Rommel
Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism
Research, told The New York Times.
poorly-policed seas and jungles of the area, combined with a government
unwilling to admit it has an insurgency on its hands, create fertile ground for
ISIS to grow in the Philippines.
their presence in these countries is less than that of places like Syria and
Headline: Here’s what’s left of ISIS — and why they still pose a major threat
Source: Business Insider