Friday, September 11, 2015

This 9-11, God Bless the Men and Women of the U.S Military and those within the Intelligence Community working far from home, doing what needs to be done to protect the homeland.

The current state of ISIS - 2015

A year ago, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) was just starting out, but now we have seen an increase in activities related to the Islamic State. The group has grown to a point that it has caused mass migration and refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. The fighting to kick off 2014 between Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s arm in Syria, and ISIS seemed, at first, to be undermining the greatest jihadi foreign fighter mobilization in history.  But in June 2014, ISIS swept into northern Iraq simultaneously seizing Mosul and the minds of jihadi supporters worldwide by doing what al-Qaeda always discussed but never delivered--an Islamic State.  Through audacity, violence against Assad, Shia, the West, and slick social media packaging, ISIS now dominates the global jihadi scene.  Foreign fighters have flocked to ISIS ranks and when unable to travel, have sworn allegiance to ISIS (bayat) in groups across North Africa to Southeast Asia. With the rise of ISIS, we see the gradual decline of Al Qaeda.

ISIS has clearly dominated al-Qaeda over the past year. Al-Qaeda couldn’t even release a confirmation video in a timely fashion when handed a success as the Kouachi brothers announced al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was responsible for the Hebdo assassination. Those who assessed that bin Laden’s death would be of no consequence for al-Qaeda have been proven wrong.  Bin Laden, along with a select few of his top lieutenants and protégés who’ve been eliminated by drones, provided the last bits of glue that held a declining al-Qaeda network together.

 More than any other factor, global jihadi members and supporters don’t talk much about al-Qaeda.  ISIS has coopted al-Qaeda’s most notable characters showcasing bin Laden, Zarqawi and even Anwar al-Awlaki in their propaganda and rhetoric. Even the youngest ISIS supporters are openly challenging Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda needs their own success to rally the troops. They haven’t really had that in years and should even a big attack occur it’s doubtful it would eclipse ISIS's success. The fact is, compared to ISIS, al-Qaeda relies heavily on donations, which allowed it to survive while being hunted over the past decade.  Today, donor reliance is a liability for al-Qaeda.  ISIS coffers are full from oil money, licit and illicit schemes, and their successes have allowed them to push into al-Qaeda’s donor stream.  Al-Qaeda provides little incentive for donors to cough up their cash, and has no population to prey on for resources.

There is a smaller silver lining here, as opposed to al-Qaeda, which has existed as a stateless, cellular network, ISIS's unity of command and cohesiveness depends on the centralization provided in their pursuit of a state. They are now taking losses and fractures appear to be emerging as defections increase and ISIS has allegedly killed off doubters in their own ranks.  Pressure on ISIS continues to mount, on-the-ground, in-the-air and online, Baghdadi and his inner circle face a substantial challenge in 2015. In addition, thousands of fighters have been killed in recent months and these losses will be difficult to regenerate as it becomes more difficult for fighters to get to the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

What we do see though is an organization that is resorting to extreme measures, for example evidence is mounting that Isis could be both manufacturing and using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. Intelligence analysts have also suggested that Isis may be using stockpiles found in Syria and Iraq during the group’s rampage last year, as the group gained territory to establish its self-declared Caliphate.

In the United States, we are seeing small inclinations for ‘wanna-be’ jihadists looking to get in on the action.  Fourteen years after the war on terror began, the Islamic State has drawn more Americans to its cause than al Qaeda ever did. In April, a 16-year-old in South Carolina was charged with illegal weapons possession in family court, but this was no routine gun case. Prosecutors claimed the Syrian-American teen planned to shoot up a U.S. Army base for ISIS. He and an older man allegedly planned to move to Syria and continue fighting for ISIS there.  Prosecutors claimed the Syrian-American teen planned to shoot up a U.S. Army base for ISIS. He and an older man allegedly planned to move to Syria and continue fighting for ISIS there. Police said they found an ISIS flag in the teen’s room during a search. Because South Carolina doesn’t have its own terrorism statute, the state charged him with possession of a firearm by a minor. He pleaded out and is currently in juvenile detention, where he might remain until age 21.

This is just one example of an organization that must be defeated. We cannot negotiate, nor can we look the other way. We must hunt them where they are and we must defeat them on their own soil, before they repeat another atrocity on the homeland.


References:
http://www.fpri.org/geopoliticus/2015/04/one-year-later-isis-overtakes-al-qaeda-whats-next
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-manufacturing-and-using-chemical-weapons-in-iraq-and-syria-us-official-claims-10496094.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-manufacturing-and-using-chemical-weapons-in-iraq-and-syria-us-official-claims-10496094.html
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/11/the-united-states-of-isis.html