TSC Report Cited by Bloomberg: With Caliphate Gone, What’s Next for Islamic State?
March 12, 2018
By: Caroline Alexander
Islamic State, the richest and most destructive Islamist militant organization the world has seen, has been subdued in Iraq and Syria by an array of forcesranging from the U.S. military to Iranian-backed militias. Its fighters have been pushed into ever smaller redoubts, and its leaders are in hiding. But the metastatic nature of violent jihad means the story isn’t likely to end there. Islamic State’s forerunner, al-Qaeda, faced the possibility of destruction in late 2001 when it was driven from its sanctuaries in Afghanistan by invading U.S. forces. It survived and helped inspirea new generation of extremists — including those who formed Islamic State …
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that more than 40,000 foreigners from at least 120 countries flocked to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State. Many are dead. The Soufan Center, a security intelligence consultancy, estimates that at least 5,600 had returned to their home countries by the end of 2017. Experts think only about 3,000 remain in the remnants of the group’s proto-state. Most of those have fled to the desert, in line with the organization’s shift toward hit-and-run attacks. Replenishing the ranks will be difficult, as many countries have taken steps since 2015 to make it harder for would-be jihadists to cross international frontiers …
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