ISIS, Battered but Still Potent, Returns to Its Insurgent Roots
BEIRUT – Three years ago, a black cleric known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is mounted on a pulpit of the mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul and addressed the world as the leader of a new terrorist state.
The announcement of the so-called caliphate was a strong point for extremist fighters in the Islamic state.
His exhibitionistic violence and apocalyptic ideology helped to seize large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq, which attracts legions of foreign fighters and create an administration with bureaucrats, courts and oil wells.
Now his state collapses.
In Syria, US-backed militias surrounded Raqqa, the group’s capital, and broke through its historic wall.
On the other side of the border, Iraqi forces seized the remains of the mosque in Mosul, where Baghdadi appeared and besieged the remaining jihadists in a small number of parts of the city.
But the loss of its two largest cities does not mean a final defeat by the Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh – analysts and officials from the United States and the Middle East.
The group has already found its roots as a force insurgency, but now has a global reach and an ideology that continues to motivate abusers around the world.
“These are obviously major blows to ISIS because of its state-building project has been completed, there are more caliphs, which will reduce support and recruits,” said Hassan Hassan, Senior Member of the Tahrir Institute of Eastern Policy Middle in Washington and a co-author of a book about the group. “But now ISIS is an international organization. Its leadership and ability to reproduce is still there.”
The Islamic state has eclipsed its precursors as al Qaeda jihadists in holding not only the territory, but in today’s cities and the interior of the country for a long time, gaining the credibility of the group in the activist world, and its to create A complex organization.
Thus, despite their physical guards, survivors managers – middle managers, technical guns, propagandists and other personnel – they invest this experience in the group’s future operations.
Iraqi special forces cleared a school in the Al-Saha neighborhood in Mosul in May. Ivor Prickett Credit for The New York Times
And although its dominance is shaken over key urban centers, the Islamic state remains homeless.
In Iraq, the group still controls Tal Afar, Hawija, other cities and much of Anbar province. In Syria, most of its major investors fled Raqqa over the past six months to other cities still under the control of ISIS in the Euphrates Valley, according to US and Western military and anti-terrorism officials who received information.
Many have moved to Mayadeen, a town 110 miles southeast of Raqqa near the oil facilities and supply lines in the surrounding desert. They took with them the most important recruiting, funding, propaganda and outside operations of the group, US officials said.
Other leaders were encouraged by Raqqa by a network of trusted advisors to the cities chain of Deir al-Zour in Abu Kamal.
US special operations forces have targeted this sector heavily with drones and Reaper jets, disrupting and damaging the leadership and ability of the Islamic State to carry out the plots. But the battle for Raqqa could last several months.