Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
In recent months we are hearing about ISIS brides and children as well as fighters attempting to return to their home country following the fall of the jihadist outfit. But anti-militancy experts such as Jennifer Cafarella, Brandon Wallace and Jason Zhou say, the current status of Islamic State (ISIS) is much stronger than before. They say, ISIS is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, rather it is much stronger than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq or AQI was in 2011 when the United States withdrew from Iraq.
Islamic State built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years. It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today, experts said.
According to counterterrorism experts, the slow-motion reduction of ISIS’s territory and strength initiated by President Obama gave the group plenty of time to plan and prepare for the next phase of the war. Islamic State had a plan to recover ready before the “caliphate” fell and has been executing it during the anti-ISIS campaign conducted by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition.
They added, ISIS deliberately withdrew and relocated many of its fighters and their families from Mosul, Raqqa, and other important cities into new and old support zones in Iraq and Syria. ISIS’s forces are now dispersed across both countries and are waging a capable insurgency. ISIS retained a global finance network that funded its transition back to an insurgency and managed to preserve sufficient weapons and other supplies in tunnel systems and other support zones in order to equip its regenerated insurgent force.
Seeing the risk of the reemergence of ISIS notoriety, experts said the jihadist outfit began reconstituting key capabilities in late 2018 that will enable it to wage an even more aggressive militancy in coming months.
It was recently revealed that hundreds of ISIS men and women are heading towards the United States and other Western countries under the disguise of refugees and migrants. Although some of the Western policymakers as well as American Left are voicing in favor of these migrants and asylum-seekers, possibly they too are at dark about the real identity of these people.
In the United Kingdom, the disturbing trend of inviting ISIS fighters, members of other jihadist outfits and terror-funders began few years back when the policymakers of that country decided to sell ‘Golden Visa’ or Visa Tier-1 to foreign investors. Taking undue advantage of this offer, dozens of notorious people have already entered Britain with tons of dirty money and sitting in that country, now they are operating jihadist activities under various disguise. Possibly for Britain, it was essential to offer ultimate citizenship due to economic challenges. But ultimately Britons may pay a very heavy price of such a foolish decision.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter at Salah_Shoaib