What ISIS Really Thinks about the Future

(The National-Abu Dhabi) Hassan Hassan - The jihadist project will continue to inspire violence for years to come, regardless of how ISIS fares militarily on the ground in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is now a full-fledged international organization seeking to reclaim the mantle of global jihadism from al-Qaeda, its former patron. By its own count, the group carried out 1,800 suicide attacks in Iraq, Syria and world-wide, and killed close to 200,000 people. It claimed 35 provinces across the region. While ISIS is expected to lose control of what were once its two capitals, Mosul and Raqqa, territorial control is not the main metric to judge its success. ISIS began to articulate its post-caliphate strategy beginning last May when its former spokesman, Abu Muhammad Al Adnani, prepared the group's followers for the fall of "all cities" under its control. Territorial loss, he explained, would merely be the beginning of a new chapter in its campaign against its enemy. An editorial in the weekly Al Naba summed up the group's strategy after its expulsion from former strongholds in Iraq: "The mujahideen retreated into the desert after leaving behind tens of concealed mujahideen from among the security squads [sleeper cells], which killed, inflicted pain, drained and tormented them." ISIS seeks to present itself as the true heir to Osama bin Laden. The attacks against Iranian targets in Tehran last month was, to a significant degree, an attempt to undermine al-Qaeda, which had never carried out attacks in Iran. The increasing role of Iran in countries like Iraq and Syria will ensure the continuation of ISIS' appeal among individuals and groups that see Iran as the usurper of their lands. The writer is a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

2017-07-07 00:00:00

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