Interesting Article: "ISIS launched more than 100 attacks in Iraq in August, a sharp uptick from previous month" by Hollie McKay. Fox News. September 3 2020.
An interesting article mentioned that fears of an ISIS resurgence are becoming more pronounced. The remnants of ISIS in Iraq claimed 100 attacks across the embattled country over the past month alone, according to an assessment by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) released on Thursday – marking a 25% uptick from July. The increase in assaults signals a worrying trend that ISIS is steadily re-emerging – via an array of sleeper cells – which is a cause for both regional and global concern, despite being territorially defeated in Iraq just over three years ago. Similarly, in neighboring Syria, which was once the hub of the self-styled ISIS “caliphate” until an official defeat was announced in March last year, clusters of jihadi loyalists continue to launch deadly and brazen assaults. Four U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters were killed by ISIS near the al-Dashisha area close to the Iraqi border. The Rojava Information Centre (RIC) published a report on Aug. 10, surmising that 79% of ISIS attacks in July took place in Deir al-Zor, with the rest taking place in either Raqqa or Manbij – all once strongholds for the groups.
According to the United Nation’s counter-terrorism chief, Vladimir Voronkov, there are more than 10,000 ISIS fighters actively operating in Iraq and Syria.
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ISIS as we knew it has been defeated with the death of their leader. Yet, ISIS stragglers still occupy the in areas that were once strongholds. Seven Iraqi nationals with suspected links to the Daesh/ISIS terror group were arrested in northwestern Turkey, security sources said in September. In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terrorist group.
The country has since been attacked by Daesh/ISIS terrorists multiple times, with at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks, and four armed attacks which killed 315 people and injuring hundreds more. In response, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.
The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) recently hosted a Webinar titled, ‘Rise of ISIS in South Asia’, on the sidelines of the 45th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. A panel of scholars, policy analysts and researchers in the field of terrorism and South Asian politics discussed the ostensible fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and its further proliferation in the region of South Asia. The event was moderated by Junaid Qureshi, Director EFSAS, and was joined by a large group of attendees including human rights activists, NGO representatives and scholars. Many of the attendees were youth and a sizeable number of attendees were from Jammu & Kashmir.
Islamic State remains flush with cash despite setbacks in the past year, holding financial reserves and a range of revenue streams that U.S. and Western security officials warn could pay for a dangerous resurgence.
Islamic State’s grip across a large swath of Syria and Iraq was broken last year when a military coalition dismantled its caliphate, cutting off much of its income from oil sales, tax-collection and extortion, and the local banks it had seized.
But the group still extorts local populations in areas it controls or has supporters; receives income from businesses it seized during its rule; and collects payments from human trafficking, U.S. and Western officials say. Its affiliates command a growing share of illicit tobacco markets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and donors in several Middle Eastern countries work on raising funds, the officials say.
The U.S. Treasury Department, a leading member of the finance group, estimates that the group’s reserves could top $300 million. The United Nations in July said the group has at least $100 million. The U.S. and its allies in the last 18 months have sanctioned more than a dozen individuals, businesses, and other organizations for financially aiding Islamic State.
Documents recovered by coalition forces after the fall of ISIS showed the group had been investing hundreds of millions of dollars into legitimate businesses, including hotels and other real estate, advisers to the U.S. government say. Western investigators are working to identify and shut down the businesses through sanctions, but face difficulty in tracing investments back to Islamic State, the advisers say.
Counterterror officials are examining intelligence suggesting tobacco smuggling is one revenue source, providing a share of a market worth several hundred million dollars a year, according to people familiar with the matter. A key Islamic State ally along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Lashkar-e-Islam, is tapping into illicit-tobacco operations throughout the region, according to these people.
Lashkar-e-Islam’s leader, Manghal Bagh, has taken control of many of the cigarette factories in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency, according to an intelligence assessment under review by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, referring to the region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Islamic State also is gaining a foothold.
Among other sources of financial support, officials from the U.N., the U.S. and the U.K. have been investigating a network of people and businesses hailing from the Iraqi border town of Rawa and suspected of helping finance Islamic State.
The pandemic also has been used in social media campaigns to raise money for the families of militant fighters living at al-Hol, a large encampment near the Syria-Iraq border, the U.N. said in a report in July. U.S. officials are investigating the fundraising for its ties to human trafficking by Islamic State, including the sale of women as wives, according to officials and counterterrorism experts.
The fact is it is hard to talk about deradicalization in the face of appalling attacks, such as those in London and Manchester: Calls for retribution are often louder than those raising the possibility of redemption. But supporting disengagement from extremism is an important part of a long-term response to terrorism. There is also a pragmatic argument for deradicalization. Compared with surveillance, incarceration, or internment, it is a more cost-effective and long-term solution. Importantly, supporting disengagement also reasserts those liberal democratic values terrorism seeks to undermine, in ways that detention without trial does not. The reasons people leave militant groups are varied and each story is different. Some are forced to quit because of arrest, others are supported by formal intervention programs, but the majority walk away of their own accord, as one former extremist put it: "I deradicalized myself, really."
It is common to talk about push and pull factors that support disengagement. Push factors can include disillusion with the group, its leaders or ideology, burnout, or a feeling that violence is going too far. Pull factors might involve the desire for a normal life, or positive interactions with those outside the group. Even financial incentives can be influential.
However, there is much to learn about the ways these different factors interact and how they shape long-term outcomes. We also have a relatively limited understanding of when and why interventions bring about positive change.
The fact is the Israel-UAE/Bahrain agreement has much hope. It is a brand-new Middle East. Within the span of only a month, the United States has brokered peace between Israel and two Arab countries—first the United Arab Emirates, then Bahrain. Both deals are revolutionary in scope: By normalizing ties and focusing on business, trade, and travel, these “warm peace” agreements go beyond the often tenuous “cold peace” that Egypt and Jordan made with the Jewish state decades ago. Not only do the UAE and Bahrain deals set the stage for a sea change in Arab-Israeli relations, but they might even present a novel opportunity to finally solve the most intractable issue between the two sides: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ties between Israel and the Gulf have grown exponentially in recent years. Underpinned by the common threat from Iran, what began as whispers of covert intelligence cooperation gradually transformed to increasingly public signs of amity. Gulf leaders have acknowledged Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, Israel’s flag has flown at sporting events, and Israeli officials have been allowed to visit. This process culminated in last month’s UAE-Israel deal, which seeks to break a major taboo in Arab-Israeli relations by establishing deep bilateral ties not just between Israeli and Emirati officialdom or security establishments, but between their peoples. That deal provides the necessary cover for other Gulf states to follow suit.
With most extremists siting Palestine as the main issue, perhaps the peace will literally bring peace. This dramatic break with the old pan-Arab consensus—which predicated any normalization of relations on a final peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians—reflects a sea change in the Gulf states’ approach to the Palestinian issue. No longer is the Palestinian cause at the center of Arab countries’ politics, as was reflected in the Arab League’s refusal of a demand by the Palestinian Authority to condemn the UAE-Israeli deal. Despite continued concern for the Palestinians, some Gulf states seem to have tired of the Palestinian Authority’s obstinacy and rejectionism in its dealings with Israel, and now they’re opting to flip the old equation: Normalization with Israel is seen as the first step to secure Palestinian rights. Let us see where the year takes us.