In 2018 President Trump declared victory over ISIS was nearly complete. The Pentagon claimed 98% of ISIS territory was regained and suggested the war was nearly over. The Iraqi government declared the war against ISIS was won. In spite of these announcements, the terrorist organization of ISIS is still very much alive and active throughout growing parts of the world. The threat posed by ISIS to the rest of the world is increasingly clear, even if much of the world is still missing the point.
Attacks such as the Sri Lanka Easter day bombings that killed more than 250 people, demonstrate ISIS can be inspirational and effective as a terrorist organization even without logistical and financial linking to the individual terrorist perpetrators. This holds true even while in other parts of the world ISIS is much more tightly connected to ongoing terrorist operations.
A report from the United Nations last month acknowledged these realities. The UN Security Council report noted that ISIS retains the ability to launch “complex international attacks” in unexpected locations throughout the world. Further, the Sri Lanka attacks are viewed as the beginning of a worldwide terrorism operation by ISIS.
The loss of territory for ISIS in Iraq and Syria has not finished the terrorist organization. These losses merely spread the operations of the group further abroad. ISIS still possesses a sophisticated online media profile with propaganda. They continue to have global aspirations. To maintain these, ISIS must continue to perpetrate high profile terrorist attacks.
Already the group’s activities have spread to affiliates in Africa, Asia and other parts of the Middle East. Commentators and terrorism experts attribute much of this spread to the more than $450 million that ISIS stole while controlling parts of Iraq and Syria and which now fills the coffers of this global terrorist organization and network. This money obviously aids in the spread of ISIS and its psychopathic agenda, but we should not underestimate the simple appeal of the anarchic ideals and profile of ISIS.
A May 2019 report from the Council on Foreign Relations noted that many of the attacks being attributed to ISIS today are not actually directly linked to the organization. In many instances, there is not true financial or logistical support coming from ISIS among organizations who claim to be part of ISIS. These facts do not counter the reality that ISIS is continuing to spread as a terrorist organization today. They show that the “idea” of ISIS is just as powerful among various terrorist groups and individuals as the infrastructure of ISIS.
ISIS is not a terrorist organization along the likes of what we have seen in prior decades and eras of history. They are less about an ideology and more about utter, rampant, and needless destruction. ISIS is a sign of the convulsing and collapsing order of our modern world. Until we recognize the bloodthirsty group for what it is we will continue to miss the point and danger they pose to the world today.