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Author expects at least similar level of terror attacks in coming year
TORONTO, Dec. 28, 2016 Following nearly two years of research, Al Emid's fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS: Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate has been released and is now available on all major book sites including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It goes behind the news about ISIS and examines what lies ahead. This advisory provides perspective on what we can expect on the ISIS Crisis in Terms of Physical Territory, Mosul, Global Appeal, Other Terrorist Groups, New Threats and confirms the Middle East as a Whole is Not Melting Down.
Even if ISIS loses its physical territory in Iraq, it might still hold on to territory in Syria. If that is the case, the Islamic State continues. "Although the terrorism picture may change, acts of terrorism will continue at their current levels or even increase," says Al Emid.
"While it might please many to assume the eventual defeat of ISIS, we need to come to grips with the possibility that ISIS will definitely continue to exist and the nation-state known as the Islamic State, while threatened may continue to exist although conceivably with a shorter lifespan than the terrorist group that created it. The borders may change, drone strikes may remove some leaders periodically, and the 'state' may continue to have governance problems. However, the actual disintegration and defeat of the group, as opposed to the geographic location of the Islamic State, appears unlikely in the short term. Recent attacks in Yemen, in Turkey, Jordan and in Berlin show the footprint of ISIS, or at least of ISIS followers. We need to understand this reality," Emid adds.
The fall of Mosul does not mean the end of ISIS. ISIS may still have Raqqa – its 'capital' and the Syrian portion of its Caliphate. Re-taking Raqqa will be much more complicated than retaking Mosul because there are several conflicts going on in Syria at the same time which is not the situation in Iraq. According to some estimates the Mosul campaign alone will require several more months.
Any ISIS fighters who escape from Iraq will head for Syria. Some have reportedly made their escape to Syria already. The fall of Mosul will also not materially damage one of its largest affiliates, Boko Haram in Nigeria – itself under attack by the Nigerian military -- or its franchises in other areas such as Somalia.
"Whether they escape from Iraq, or eventually from Syria, the ISIS fighters that have not been killed or captured will not return to 'normal' lives. They can be expected to mount attacks as insurgents which is where ISIS started in its previous incarnation, as a branch of Al Qaeda," Emid says.
The cost of victory over any part of the Islamic State is tremendous. When Ramadi and Fallujah fell, they were in ruins. This will also be the case at Mosul. After the battle for Mosul is won the coalition partners will have to come to grips with the considerable financial cost of keeping an army in place, the political cost to nations whose populations question the value of sending their soldiers off to battle, and the human cost in terms of civilian lives lost due to bombing and because civilians are often used as human shields. "These economic, political and human costs could deter the coalition's appetite to re-take other areas from ISIS," says Emid.
ISIS has Global Reach and Appeal
At time of writing, there are an estimated 1,000 foreign fighters inside Mosul. Also, ISIS still has 'provinces' or 'franchises' in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia.
ISIS also has fighters/sympathizers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tunisia, Jordan, Australia, Algeria, Canada, the United States, France Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia and elsewhere. Overall, ISIS is in over 30 countries, when we include their branches affiliates and groups like Boko Haram who have sworn allegiance to ISIS.
Other Terrorist Groups
Bear in mind that while ISIS is the most visible terrorist group it is by no means the only one. There are approximately 70 terrorist groups officially designated by the U.S. State Department and these groups see how much attention comes to ISIS and want a piece of that. As well, Al Qaeda appears to be gathering strength in Afghanistan and elsewhere. "The irony is that if ISIS is weakened, Al Qaeda would actually get some of the benefit. Al Qaeda is the former parent organization of ISIS and after their very bitter split they became rivals for money, loyalty of recruits and even the leadership of the jihadist movement. The Taliban also are getting stronger again," adds Emid.
While it might seem appealing to believe that two jihadist groups hate each other, it is not that simple. They compete for money from benefactors and each is determined to outdo the other. They also compete for recruits.
We live in an era when government computers and those of major corporations are hacked on a regular basis (just think Sony). Many media outlets are filled with stories on the ongoing accusations that Russia hacked the computers of the Democratic Party. "I believe cyber terrorism will become more 'normal' in 2017 and we have not as yet figured out how to fight it," Emid says.
"The problem we are going to have is separating the real from the hyperbole. It is questionable whether ISIS is responsible for every terrorist act or sometimes finds it convenient to claim responsibility. We also have to find that delicate balance between safety and individual privacy," Emid says.
Despite Everything, the Middle East is not melting down
Recent geopolitical upheavals have led to a perception that the entire Middle East is going up in flames. The coalition forces are fighting in Mosul in Iraq, and are also fighting to retake Raqqa in Syria. Yemen's continuing hostilities have heightened the misunderstanding.