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Saturday, August 8, 2015

The expansion of ISIS and its intended future targets.

Link: A.  The expansion of The Islamic State.
          B.  Hamas aiding ISIS in Sinai?

This blog has regularly taken the opportunity to provide information regarding the recruitment efforts ands expansionist intentions of the extremist group, The Islamic State (ISIS).  From out perspective, the United States and its European and Arab allies have not been nearly proactive enough regarding the ISIS' ability to establish itself rapidly in almost any part of the world.  In fact, the allies haven't been proactive whatsoever.  Until now, that is.  We are beginning to see a bit more attention paid to the activities of ISIS, and more importantly, groups that have aligned themselves with the Islamic State.  June and July were pivotal months regarding the expansion of ISIS from within the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq, to Egypt, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, and possibly even the United States itself.  As detailed in our blog posting from July 8 (Link B), ISIS arrived with a bang in Sinai, taking out one Egyptian checkpoint before being dispatched themselves.  Although the international press had published occasional stories regarding certain established terrorist groups pledging allegiance to ISIS, it was the attack in Sinai that sounded the alarm.  From a strictly military perspective, the attack was a disaster.  The ISIS fighters, most of whom were local Palestinian recruits with a few veterans of Syria thrown in for good measure, managed to kill a handful of Egyptian soldiers, but they lost roughly two hundred of their own.  We know from a source on the scene that the Egyptian soldiers, especially the ones attacked at the original checkpoint, exhibited tremendous courage and determination.  No doubt their ability to keep ISIS from quickly moving through the checkpoint and on to larger targets, saved many lives.  In the end, though, the attack achieved its goals.  ISIS wanted to announce to the world that the conflict was no longer limited to Syria and Iraq, and also demonstrate its ability to recruit and utilize dedicated supporters was basically unlimited.

Since the early July events in Gaza, ISIS has not conducted anymore high-profile attacks outside Syria and Iraq, at least not of which we are aware.  In July, an Islamic extremist gunman opened fire on a U.S. military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and a Sailor.  Was this deranged young man connected to ISIS?  Not according to the U.S. government.  He was a frequent visitor to ISIS-friendly websites, message boards and chat rooms, and he recently spent six months in Jordan, which makes the "lone-wolf" declaration by the Obama Administration seem to us to be bizarrely premature and suspiciously political.  We suspect that the shooter probably had some contact with ISIS agents while in Jordan, who ratcheted up the hate and anti-infidel message which was spinning in his head when he returned stateside.  The most difficult question to answer, is what kind of sleeper-cell network has ISIS, and Al-Qaeda beforehand, developed in North America?  From our optic, Al-Qaeda appears to favor the well-planned, highly trained, carefully chosen target, patient approach with regards to its cells, while ISIS seems to have no problem just handing someone a gun or a vehicle full of explosives, and telling them that when the signal comes in, just go out and kill people.  Interestingly enough, Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda loved a carefully planned, well-resourced operation, and al-Baghdadi and ISIS seem to prefer operations that result in the highest casualty list, regardless of cost.  In the end, though, all three were definite believers in the power of fear.  However the operation comes about, in the end, it must create enough fear in the target communities, to make people consider changing the way they and their families live life.

On a positive note, the new administration in Nigeria seems intent on destroying Boko Haram (BH)once and for all.  The terrorist group has basically been on the run for some weeks, as the joint military efforts of Chad, Nigeria, Benin and Cameroon have left BH very little room to maneuver.  BH achieved a great deal of attention with its announcement of allegiance to ISIS, but ISIS is smart enough to stay out of northern Nigeria, at least for the moment.  The same can't be said for Libya, which seems to become more of a complicated mess everyday.  The fact that Libya hasn't already been united under one Islamic extremist banner is a surprise in itself, because it certainly seems destined to happen.  But for the time being, the United States and Europe continue to utilize some form of diplomacy to effect positive change, while at the same time, ISIS does its business out in the desert, visiting one isolated community after another, and adding them to the cause.  I'm not sure if the current Libyan government sits in Benghazi or Tripoli, or if any government is currently being recognized by the United Nations.  But the U.N. and the United States have been aware of the delicate state of affairs in Libya, since long before the Benghazi incident which killed five Americans.  You could not plan a more advantageous situation for ISIS, as the people are desperate for someone to institute a bit of law and order, and maybe get the water turned back on.  As demonstrated in Iraq, ISIS has learned the art of local government, and is expanding its footprint in Libya by providing communities with some level of organization and relief.

ISIS has also become active in Yemen, but to what degree is still a mystery.  ISIS has also established itself in many of the large, urban township communities in central and southern Africa, which has the potential to be an unlimited source of recruits.  Has ISIS found its way to the townships of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo?  When young people see no future, the color of their skin makes no difference.  They will be a captive audience when the ISIS recruiters show up, with stories of glory on the battlefield, the holiness of killing infidels, and the providing of a wife (in this world, and forty additional ones in the next).  But one of the most important thing that ISIS can provide is something that the planners at the U.N. and the Pentagon haven't really started to notice: ISIS provides these young people with DIRECTION, a cause, a reason to get up in the morning.  One can never overestimate the value of "raison d'etre".  If the various governments in Africa are unable to solve endemic problems of unemployment and homelessness, then we should have a good idea from where the next batch of young recruits will originate.  Maybe the next Gaza-like statement will be in Pretoria, or Nakuru.  One thing is certain: the problem of global youth unemployment will only feed the fire of discontent that continues to provide extremists like ISIS with young people who are willing to die for the cause. 

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