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Destroyed on the battlefield, ISIS begins a new chapter of terror



Within days of the attacks, ISIS's online publication al Nabaa crowed about "setting up the Caliph's banner in new arenas … The days are pregnant with further disappointments for the enemies of Allah." The video was published by a news agency affiliated with ISIS.

There is still much to learn about the organization behind the attacks in Sri Lanka. However, the counter-terrorism experts agree on one point: the small Islamist groups on the island could not have carried out such a complex attack without outside help. [19659002] This raises several questions: Will ISIS export know-how in bomb making, fund-raising and recruitment far beyond its core area? Where can you find fertile soil? And how far is "ISIS central" ̵

1; in the last three years exposed to a crippling war of attrition – able to organize and direct attacks far from the heartland?

Lapse

Ben Wedeman, CNN's International correspondent, spent nearly two months in Baghouz, northern Syria, reporting on ISIS's latest position. "I do not think there's any doubt that many militants – hundreds – have fled another day," he says. "When the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advanced on Baghouz, there were many escape routes, and the number of SDF fighters was relatively low, and the area they need to secure is large."

Many will still be underground in Iraq and Syria. We already see ISIS's adaptation to Iraq in a low-level uprising. This year, attacks on government forces and Shiite militias are being carried out and murdered in several Sunni areas. A UN report earlier this year stated, "This network will be built at the provincial level with a cellular structure that reflects key leadership functions."

In January, an ISIS sleeping cell was able to conduct a suicide bombing that killed at least 14 people, including four Americans, in Manbij, northern Syria, far from the still-controlled strip of land. Only this week, IS fighters launched a surprise attack on al Kawm in the desert near Palmyra.

Aimen Dean, who joined Al Qaeda in 1996 before becoming an asset to British intelligence agencies, told CNN he estimates that up to 5,000 ISIS fighters in the area are at large.

Most reviews (though this is an imprecise science) suggest that after the loss of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017, thousands rather than hundreds of ISIS fighters and planners have slipped out of the caliphate.

"We do not know how many died," says Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator of the United Nations ISIS / Al-Qaida / Taliban Monitoring Team. "But we can assume that at least 50% survive, my personal estimate is more."
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[19659007] According to intelligence agencies, some are passing through Iran into the Pakistani Baluchistan province and slipped to Afghanistan. His propaganda suggests that IS considers the future of India as a promising territory and intends to intensify tensions between Muslims and Hindus there. Others have returned to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where an ISIS attack took place on the same day as the bombings in Colombo.

The ISIS network in Libya has been reforming since its expulsion from the coastal city of Sirte, and this year has launched several attacks against other Libyan factions.

In the Philippines, a pro-ISIS group held parts of the city of Marawi for five months in 2017; it included many foreign fighters.

"Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan: These are the countries where returnees pose a significant threat," says Aimen Dean.

Push and Pull

In addition to the battle-hardened Caliphate survivors, there are many ISIS sympathizers who are supported by online radicalization and extremist preachers. The collapse of the caliphate has reduced the appeal of ISIS, but despite claims by US President Donald Trump, "We have just taken over a 100% caliphate," it certainly has not eradicated it. The leadership of the group has been preparing for this new phase of its existence for a long time. Before being killed in a drone strike, IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the loss of territory would not mean the end of the group.
"No, defeat loses the will and desire to fight," he said.
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The leadership of ISIS has been eroded, communication and planning has been disrupted. But the message is still out there. Edmund Fitton-Brown says that ISIS-inspired attacks will become the new normal.

"It's angry, radicalized people who react to something they see online," he told the Sentinel of the Combating Terrorism Center.

Some will join the ISIS ideology; Some will turn to Al Qaeda. In some places, such as in the Sahel region of North Africa, there is evidence of a burgeoning collaboration among members of each group. Aim Dean, who is following closely the fighting in Syria, says some former IS fighters would turn to a group related to Al Qaeda – Hurras al Deen – in northern Syria.

In a sense, a decentralized structure is more difficult to confront than a highly centralized one. Cutting off the snake's head has less effect. Al Qaeda's subsidiaries in Africa, Yemen and elsewhere even survived and thrived long after the center of Al Qaeda was decimated.

The Bank of Terror

Where the IS has a distinct advantage is at the bank. Fitton-Brown says the estimates of his assets range between $ 50 million and $ 300 million. Other estimates go even higher. The caliphate's revenues were invested in legitimate businesses, washed by banks and lenders, and literally hidden under planks.

An overarching question about the Sri Lanka attacks is how they were funded. Dean estimates that the operation could have cost between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000. "Who made this money and how did you get it?" Dean asks.

Similarly, after the attack in Riyadh a week ago, Saudi authorities raided a recently built farm complex that cost nearly $ 200,000, according to Dean. There was also plenty of cash and weapons.

The ISIS leadership can still exercise some control over the distribution of funds. "The money has been moved absolutely out [of Iraq and Syria]," says Fitton-Brown. "And money and gold caches have been transferred to other places."

"Cash is always managed centrally by a supreme authority within the organization," says Dean. Operation may be at the discretion of local franchisees. Your funding is rare. "ISIS is the bank of terror," Dean told CNN.

A Global Phenomenon

In past decades, terrorism was more local or national. In 1998, Al Qaeda staged world attacks with attacks in East Africa, followed by September 11 attacks in the United States three years later. The age of transnational jihad had arrived. The worldwide reach of terrorism has since been fueled by online radicalization, encrypted messaging and the ease of international travel.

  Why We Still Have to Worry About ISIS

Put this into what Bruce Hoffman, he writes for the Council on Foreign Relations, widely referred to as religious intolerance and sectarian tensions, "whether it is rising Islamophobia, as in the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019, anti-Semitism … the unrestricted attack of Christians by the Islamic State in Egypt, Syria and Iraq or attacks by Shiite communities by Sunni extremists in Pakistan. "

ISIS thrives in this environment. His attacks in 2015 in Paris (France), for example, should stimulate anti-Muslim sentiment. Wherever the remaining leaders of the group hide, they are likely to hope in the deserts of Iraq that religious hostilities will arise in Sri Lanka.

Edmund Fitton-Brown says, "We have to live with an environmental threat, that's the modern world."

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