Experts warn that the Islamic State – ISIS – could make a comeback. Not as a so-called Caliphate controlling thousands of square miles in territory, giving them a “State” larger than a handful of small countries. While recently they’ve lost over 98% of their territory (most of which has occurred under President Donald Trump) they have not lost their ability to gain membership. And just as ISIS exploited a power vacuum in Iraq and Syria to initially expand their Caliphate, the opportunity is already presenting itself elsewhere, such as in Africa, and even parts of the Middle East they had already lost.
According to Foreign Policy, there are a number of variables that could help aid an ISIS comeback, including:
- The fact that ISIS could have smuggled as much as $400 million out of Iraq and Syria, which will allow them to operate as clandestine terrorist cells currently, and grant them the ability to wage guerrilla warfare.
- An estimated 30,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria.
- ISIS has regained control of oil fields in northeastern Syria and continues to extract oil for use by its fighters.
Unlike any other Jihadist group before them, ISIS attempted to run their own pseudo-State (or as they called it, “Caliphate”) in addition to being a terror group. The allure of the Caliphate run by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (believed by ISIS members to be the successor to Muhammad) brought them thousands of foreign fighters that wouldn’t do the same to join other terror groups, such as Al-Qaeda. While the loss of their status as a “State” greatly damages ISIS’ ability to recruit foreigners, it doesn’t make them any less dangerous. It simply means they’ll operate as any other terrorist group would in the meantime (planning out and executing individual attacks).
While ISIS originated in 1999 as an al-Qaeda affiliated group, they would’ve never become the massive force that they were in 2013-2015 in absence of Obama’s inaction in the middle east. His withdrawal from Iraq immediately created a power vacuum filled by ISIS, which he infamous referred to as Al-Qaeda’s “JV-team” (just days before they carried out a massacre in Paris, killing 130). He also failed to authorize 75% of all airstrikes requested against ISIS (while under Trump, use of airstrikes soared 400%), and did nothing to help save American hostages that were later executed by ISIS.
ISIS has been territoriality defeated – but they have not been exterminated. Regardless, there are roughly ten million people who lived under ISIS oppression who are no longer suffering that fate. It’s interesting how the media has completely ignored that fact, isn’t it?
ISIS as we know it (a State) is dead, but the battle isn’t yet over. If we know one thing for sure, it’s that Trump will not repeat the same mistakes that Obama made in allowing ISIS to become the group they were at their peak.