ISIS fighters have been defeated at the final shred of territory they held in eastern Syria, marking the end of jihadist rule that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

Timeline of ISIS

How threat still exist?

  • ISIS’s strategic use of social media demonstrates the resourcefulness of the terrorist-cum-insurgent organization, which mobilized an estimated 40,000 foreign nationals from 110 countries to join the group.
    • Increasing internet access in both Africa and the Middle East means that ISIS also has a new pool of potential supporters who, through social media, could be recruited to join its effort to regain control of lost territory.
    • Given the threats ISIS’s online propaganda poses to regional and international security, policy makers and analysts may need a better understanding of the intentions of the group in the information and communication technologies (ICT) domain.
  • A UN report said several current estimates from UN member states put the number of active ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria at “between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals, roughly equally distributed between the two countries.”
  • There are indications the terrorist group is adjusting its tactics to keep its lethal capability and long-term totalitarian strategy alive.
  • Even at a time ISIS is thought to be encircled, the terrorist organisation seems to draw new recruits.
  • Many other factors constitute a fertile ground for radicalisation. These include the socio-economic marginalisation of youth in the region and beyond, the manipulation of religious discourse and the resilience of the financial networks that support ISIS’s mischief.
  • An emerging threat in Iraq in which former ISIS fighters are joining armed Shia militias. They cite the Badr Organisation and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq among such groups. In these groups, former ISIS operatives launder their combat experience in exchange for protection and a steady income.
  • ISIS still has sources of revenue that finance its activities. On top of the millions of dollars that its leadership might have smuggled, the terrorist organisation is adept at various criminal activities such as extortion, drug trafficking and the smuggling of artefacts.

Way forward

The world powers must come together without any complacency to defeat the ISIS.

Co-ordination to limit the financial blood in ISIS and negate its online propaganda is essential.

Simultaneously, development of areas hitherto under ISIS control and giving regular source of income to people of Syria and Iraq to important to diminish the recruits in ISIS.

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