The Rise and Fall of Islamic State(IS)

Introduction

‘Iraqi forces will continue the hunt for IS fighters’
The Islamic State’s “state of falsehood” has come to an end, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on
Thursday, after his troops captured the wrecked historic mosque of Mosul, from where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
declared himself “Caliph” three years ago.
“The return of the al-Nuri Mosque and the al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the
Daesh state of falsehood,” Mr. Abadi said in a statement, referring to the ultra hard-line Sunni group by anArabic acronym.He said Iraqi forces would continue to hunt the Islamic State’s fighters “to kill them and detain them, down to the last one.”
The insurgents blew up the medieval mosque and its famed leaning minaret a week ago as the U.S.-backed
Iraqi forces advanced towards it. The IS black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret since June 2014.
Authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in the coming days as the remaining IS fighters are bottled up in just a handful of neighbourhoods of the Old City.Nearly three years since the group’s elusive leader Abu
Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is reeling from losses across its so-called “caliphate.”It is fast losing its grip on Mosul, its biggest hub in Iraq, and its de-facto capital in Syria –
– Raqqa — is all but surrounded. But it’s not just territory that the militant group is losing.
Present Developing Situation
Over the last six months, ISIS has seen its finances blocked, stock piling of weapons stopped, their media
propaganda suffered and several high-ranking leaders killed or captured.
The ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’-an alliance of Kurds and Arab tribes -are approaching the outskirts of Raqqa,
and the battle will begin within “days”.
While the fight against ISIS is far from won, the lines of this war are slowly being redrawn. As the group is driven from key cities and villages in what was once its self-proclaimed caliphate, ISIS is evolving from territorial to ideological threat. Before he was killed in a drone attack, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said that potential setbacks
in Mosul and Raqqa would not spell the group’s end: “No, defeat is losing the will and the desire to fight.”
For some ISIS fighters, there will be no escape from the battles of Mosul and Raqqa. Nor do they want one. Urged on by the messages of al-Adnani and al-Baghdadi, they will embrace martyrdom in the alleyways of Mosul and the wide expanses of the Jazeera desert. Most of those who fight to the death are likely to be
foreign fighters, if past experience is any guide. Moroccans, Tunisians and Chechens will be among them.Since its inception, ISIS has prepared for the ‘day after’ the caliphate. Its battle cry has long been “Baqiya
wa tatamaddad,” or “remain and expand.”
While its expansion may take generations, the group’s leadership is ready for a stateless Islamic State. Top commanders and hardcore fighters will likely to remain in Iraq and Syria, forming an underground resistance.
IS has cultivated deep influence in the Sunni population of Iraq and Syria. (less so in Syria where many jihadists regard it as an interloper). Over the past decade, the group has developed networks skilled at raising
money, obtaining weapons and clandestine organization across a wide swathe of Iraq -from Diyala in the east
to Rutbah close to the Jordanian border. Even as it is under pressure in Mosul, ISIS remains active in many of
these places, and is capable of carrying out suicide bombings in Baghdad, Tikrit and elsewhere. It has shown
resilience in Syria, looking to establish footholds far from its Raqqa headquarters. In some ways, it is returning
to what it does best -agile attacks, mobility and surprise.
Switching Allegiances
As ISIS’ fortunes decline, some militants may try to switch allegiance to other groups. In Syria, these include
the former ‘al Qaeda’ affiliate ‘Jabhat Fateh al Sham’. But there’s a long history of bad blood between the two
groups, which had a bitter and public falling out three years ago. Few in the ISIS hierarchy would contemplate
such a move. In Iraq, there are precious few alternatives for ISIS militants because the group has
systematically attacked rivals in the region.
Even so, ISIS’ decline is an opportunity for al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Some militants will see al
Qaeda as the only option for continuing their struggle. ISIS traces its origins to an al Qaeda franchise in Iraq
(AQI).
Beginning Of The End
At least 75% of ISIS fighters have been killed since the US-led coalition launched airstrikes in Iraq and
Syria, according to US estimates. By last December, they estimate ISIS’ ranks had winnowed to between
12,000 and 15,000.
It is extraordinarily difficult to estimate how many foreign fighters remain in the region. But far fewer foreign
fighters have been able to reach the ‘promised land’ in the last year than previously.
The most worrying possibility for the West is that these foreign fighters, finding survival in Iraq and Syria
difficult, post-caliphate, might return home to carry out lone-wolf style attacks -as well as recruit new
members and revive underground networks. They will try to use migrant routes and often will travel alone.
The travel patterns of those involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks uncovered deep flaws in the tracking of
such individuals among European security services. While it’s now much harder for foreign fighters to travel
through Turkey, as migrant flows have slowed, an unknown number have slipped through the cracks.
It only takes a handful of individuals to cross the Mediterranean, or travel through the Balkans undetected, for
a European city to be vulnerable to another devastating assault.
As and when Raqqa falls, the logistical and financial help for such operatives will have to find another home.
(Recent attacks in Brussels and Istanbul both appear to have been co-ordinated from Raqqa).Even so, in the
age of encryption, sympathizers are able to find ways to communicate securely with ISIS leadership. The
Uzbek national who carried out the New Year’s Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul had never been to Syria,
but communicated with commanders through the encrypted chat app Telegram, according to testimony he
provided Turkish prosecutors.Turkey, given its proximity to Syria and Iraq and its use as a logistical rear-base
by ISIS, may be especially vulnerable.Rather than risk going home, some ISIS members may try to reach new
jihadist pastures.There’s evidence indicating that hundreds have already reached other ISIS-controlled
provinces, or wilayats, especially in Libya.
Across the world, from Russia’s North Caucasus to Nigeria, militant groups have pinned their flags to the
ISIS banner over the last three years. Some comprise a few dozen men hiding in mountains and jungles; others
have been sophisticated and well funded, with close links to ISIS’ head office. Still others are hardened
insurgent groups capable of inflicting heavy casualties on armies. One such group is the Islamic State in
Northern Sinai (ISNS), which has inflicted hundreds of casualties on Egyptian security forces since affiliating
itself with ISIS in 2014.
It threatened Christians to leave Sinai, and boasted setting up checkpoints in the middle of a coastal town, al-
Arish. It also claimed responsibility for the terrorist bombing of a Russian plane that exploded in mid-air,
crashing in the Sinai Peninsula in November 2015.ISNS is unlikely to be able to seize and hold territory in
Sinai, but does not seem close to defeat -despite a determined offensive by the Egyptian military.Some ISIS
fighters now in Syria and Iraq may try to join ISNS and other active affiliates, much as ‘al Qaeda’ fighters
moved to Iraq and Yemen after 9/11. They will try to use migrant routes and often will travel alone. But they
will take with them skills learned in years of combat.
US President Donald Trump has promised to bomb the entire IS head quarters and finish them. This might
be feasible amid the crumbling holdouts of the caliphate, but as the remnants of ISIS go underground or
escape, the apocalyptic mindset they have come to represent will live on. It -or something very similar -will
find a host among Sunni in the Middle East who feel persecuted, and among a few young and alienated
Muslims in western societies who seek purpose and revenge against wrongs perceived and real.
Conclusion
“The Islamic State is on the back foot militarily, it’s losing territory,” Charlie Winter, senior fellow at the
International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, who has
studied ISIS propaganda for years, declared. “Even if ISIS loses Mosul and Raqqa, the ideology will live on.”
Folks, Let us hope the World will once again wake up to face ‘sanity’.

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