Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Coming To A Guerrilla Theatre Near You

"I smuggled about fifty ISIS fighters into Turkey. They were wearing cool clothes, classic jeans with many necklaces, trying to disguise as much as they can."
"They hid their passports in their boots. They were completely shaved, you never guess they are ISIS."
"They didn't speak any Arabic, few words."
Abu Omar, smuggler between Syria and Turkey

"The group is transitioning into an underground organization that places more weight on asymmetrical tactics, like suicide bombings against soft targets in government-secured areas like Baghdad."
Otso Iho, senior analyst, Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center, IHS Markit, London

"Since this invasion of Afrin by Turkey, ISIS is getting stronger in the south."
"The Turks want to give another chance to ISIS to grow again. Before the Turkish invasion, we were very close to finishing ISIS."
Mustafa Balli, spokesman, Syrian Democratic Forces
An Isis convoy was stranded in the Syrian desert after a US-led coalition airstrike bombed the road AFP/Getty Images

News is that the caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is injured and in poor health, but yet alive, according to an Iraqi intelligence chief as well as American officials. On the Syrian side of the border with Iraq in northeast Deir Ezzor province, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi still is invested in rallying his troops. "We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organization that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding", stated Abu Ali al-Basri, director general of the Iraqi intelligence and counter0terriorism office.

Not seen in public since the July 2014 declaration of his caliphate while in Mosul, U.S. officials confirm that despite Russian claims to have killed ISIL's caliph, he is very much alive. His public message in a 46-minute audio broadcast last September called on his supporters to convey the Islamic State's message wherever they live in  he West, using whatever means come to hand. The faithful in jihad have gone to great lengths to prove their support of ISIL's deathly ideology in carrying out attacks as dictated.

And now that the geographical caliphate has been forcefully disbanded and Islamic State is advancing toward other means of attack, moving toward guerrilla warfare at which it distinguishes itself, the West can look forward to greater initiatives on the part of returning jihadists who have stealthily re-established themselves in their democratic places of origin through citizenship and birth. For thousands of Islamic State foreign fighters and their families escaped the eastern Syria campaign to dislodge them.

Many fled the U.S.-led military campaign along with the Raqqa agreement between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State to allow their fighters to retreat, rather than face the brutal street-by-street fighting that would have ensued had they remained in their tunnels to emerge to counter the Kurdish-led forces. Many ISIL members trained in the use of chemical weapons defected to the Syrian al-Qaeda branch.

Among others tens of thousands are being paid to smugglers to funnel them into Turkey and from there to return home to Europe. To regain their former lives, smouldering in resentment against the West? Some, perhaps, while others take with them the incitement for vengeance expressed by Baghdadi using any and all means possible. The premature assurance that ISIL is finished is giving way to ISIL recharging itself and reappearing in another deadly form to challenge the power and endurance of the West to resist the Islamist jihadi menace.

An estimated 40,000 fighters from 120 countries had streamed into the conflicts in Syria and Iraq in the last four years. Thousands may have been sacrificed as martyrs on the battlefields, but many more thousands filtered their way to take part in conflicts in Libya, Yemen or the Philippines, while still others have found temporary haven in Turkey and elsewhere. As many as 1,500 of the 5,000 European ISIL jihadis have returned to Europe, among them ISIL-branded women and children.

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