Defeated militarily in 2017, Isis remains a global threat

Defeated militarily in 2017, Isis remains a global threat
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:36:26

The year 2017 saw significant destruction to Isis, which lost almost all of its self-proclaimed "Caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, but experts warn the group is adapting and continues to be a threat.

(AFP) -- Within hours of the start of the year, an Uzbek who described himself as a "Caliphate Soldier" opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul in Turkey, murdering 39 New Year's Eve revellers.

Through directly arming terrorists or by luring them with online propaganda, Isis has committed or inspired dozens of deadly attacks, especially during the first half of the year, including in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Somalia and Great Britain.

Among them was suicide bomber Salman Abedi, a young British man of Libyan origin, who killed 22 people -- including many children -- by blowing up a homemade bomb at the exit of an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester on May 22.

Vehicle attacks, committed by terrorists inspired by Isis orders, have brought bloodshed to the streets of London, Stockholm, New York and Barcelona -- and remain very difficult to prevent.

The attacks, which claimed several thousand lives overall, took place despite the almost complete dismantling of the organisation in Iraq and Syria, following a coordinated offensive launched in autumn 2016.

Isis had set up a base to manage its networks abroad, recruit soldiers, finance and coordinate their actions. But its physical disappearance did not put an end to the attacks.

"Isis certainly is defeated militarily," former anti-terrorist analyst, Yves Trotignon told AFP.

"While it has about 3,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, which is a lot, it should be remembered that in 2009 the predecessor of the Isis of Iraq had been militarily defeated. But it took them only two and a half years to take advantage of the Syrian "revolution" [situation] and rise again from the ashes."

The way in which the post-Isis world is managed in the coming months and years will prove crucial in preventing creation of another terrorist movement claiming to defend its interests, according to experts.

And in the meantime, the long list of atrocities, attacks or failed attempts of 2017 proves that the global Isis-affiliated movement -- including Al-Qaeda -- remains resilient.

"The surgical operation in Iraq and Syria has been successful. But, as was the case in Afghanistan with Al-Qaeda, the cancer has regrown and there are "jihadist" [extremist-affiliated] territories elsewhere," Trotignon said.

"Isis is defeated, but the terrorist threat is far from disappearing. It is evolving in terms of the protagonists, modes of operation, and no calming factor is emerging.

"American researchers believe the phenomenon will last several generations."

"They no longer have an army like in 2014. It does not mark the end of Daesh."

(Photo: AFP)

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