ISIS Extending Attacks Beyond Iraq and Syria Reminds Why You Need Gold
Just when you thought ISIS was finished, one of their affiliates in Egypt on Friday carried out a savage assault that represented the worst terrorist attack in the modern history of the country. This incident proves that even when the Islamic State are ejected from Iraq and Syria, the threat to global stability will not end.
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Egyptian ISIS Attack Kills Over 300 At A Mosque
It was Friday, November 24th in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt when between 25 and 30 militants targeted a Sufi mosque. They began by setting off a bomb within the full building. As the terrified people fled, the terrorists continued the assault, shooting the fleeing worshipers who were running. More than 305 individuals died with over a hundred others wounded.
The top Egyptian prosecutor Nabil Sadek described their attack on the building with his statement:
“The perpetrators of the terrorist attack posted themselves in front of the door of the mosque and its 12 windows.”
Notable in the attack was that the militants charged the building carrying not only their automatic weapons, but also an Islamic State flag. In typical ISIS fashion, the attack showed no mercy and was carried out on a significant scale.
Egyptians were stunned not only by how violent the attack that killed over 300 was, but also by the type of target. In the past there have seldom been such assaults on mosques. The ISIS attacks have mostly concentrated on Coptic Christian churches or visiting pilgrims.
The group behind the terrorist attack was said to be Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. This Islamic terrorist militia declared its allegiance to IS three years ago in 2014. In the intervening years, they have become one of the most deadly branches for them.
Previously their worst attack had been the shooting down of a Russian airplane. When it crashed after departing Sharm el Sheikh two years ago in 2015, all 224 passengers and crew died. This map shows the militia's area of operation:
The weekend attack happened even as the security and military of Egypt have been carefully watching for the return of IS fighters coming home from Iraq and Syria. Their greatest fear has been that the experienced terrorists would return and inject a new level of violence and destruction into the militant scene in the country.
ISIS Continues to Be A Significant Worldwide Threat
This troubling and devastating attack reminded just how serious a worldwide threat ISIS still represents. The group may no longer control a huge territory and population in either Iraq or Syria, yet their influence continues to permeate and spread throughout not only the Middle East but the world. International experts on the group have continued to sound the alarm that it is both misguided and way too soon to believe the group is either destroyed or forgotten.
This past week at a counter-terrorism conference in Britain, experts gathered to discuss the threats at a forum that the RUSI Royal United Service Institute security and defense group hosted. A key speaker was Alastair Burt the British Minister for the Middle East and North Africa. Regarding ISIS, he warned:
“There's no doubt that the threat to us all continues to grow. Even as we see Daesh (ISIS) push back on the physical battlefield, we know that they will continue to pose a threat in the region. We also know that the battle of ideas is far from won. Daesh is still capable of inspiring people to carry out attacks in its name and, as such, it remains a serious global threat. We've seen tragic evidence of this on this continent, in the U.S. and here in the U.K., with five deadly terrorist attacks this year alone.”
His words are a wake up call to the many people and even leaders who have written off the Islamic State already.
ISIS Has Been Chased Out of Iraq and Syria
The positive news that everyone has focused on has been the near-elimination of ISIS from Iraq and Syria. Both Iraqi and Syrian armed forces (along with rebel groups in Syria) have labored to regain lost territory that the Islamic State had captured as its physical state spread.
In 2017 especially the Islamic State suffered severe territorial reverses in those two countries that have seen its territory whittled away almost to nothing. This year saw the terrorists lose their two most important cities, Mosul within Iraq and Raqqa within Syria, along with various other settlements. This past Thursday, the Iraqi army began clearing the border lands desert with Syria from the militants. They have hailed this as their last effort to expel IS fighters from Iraq.
While the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi has been careful not to prematurely declare total victory over the group, others have not been so hesitant. Last Tuesday President Hassan Rouhani of Iran actually announced that the Islamic State had been defeated. He gave thanks and praise to all groups that had battled the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In his own words, this:
“Put an end to a group that did not bring anything for us but evil , misery, destruction, murder, and savagery.”
This is one thing about which everyone agrees. The evidence is clear that IS has been substantially diminished in Iraq and Syria, as the information from the JTIC Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center released in last Wednesday's report demonstrated. Head of the JTIC Matt Henman declared in the report that you see the:
“Extent of the degradation of the Islamic State's armed campaign in the country (Iraq). While this process (of decreasing attacks and fatalities) has been ongoing since June 2016, the pace of operational decline has increased over the previous 12 months; the 126 attacks in October represented almost half the peak recorded in January, while the 102 fatalities represented an 80.0 percent decrease from November 2016.”
Yet as the attack in Egypt's Sinai just reminded everyone, the ISIS threat is not simply one against Iraq and Syria.
The Bad News Is That ISIS Fighters Are Regrouping In The West
Because of the strong belief in martyrdom that underlies the ideology of the Islamic State, a significant number of the jihadists will perish in the final struggles for their physical territory. Yet many others will simply disappear into the desert to reemerge in the countries from which they originated. Here they will be sleeper cells waiting to carry out still more attacks, as they have already been doing over the past year.
No one can say with certainty how many of the terrorist fighters or their cells will turn up back in the United States, Germany, France, Britain, and numerous other Western countries. All security experts know is that they are making their way back.
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