Washington Post: ISIL Quietly Preparing for the Loss of the ‘Caliphate’
Even as it launches waves of terrorist attacks around the globe, ISIL is quietly preparing its followers for the eventual collapse of the ‘caliphate’ it proclaimed with great fanfare two years ago, The Washington Post reported.
In public messages and in recent actions in Syria, the group’s leaders are acknowledging the terrorist organization’s declining fortunes on the battlefield while bracing for the possibility that its remaining strongholds could fall, the American newspaper added.
“At the same time, the terrorist group is vowing to press on with its recent campaign of violence, even if the terrorists themselves are driven underground. US counterterrorism experts believe the mass casualty attacks in Istanbul and Baghdad in the past month were largely a response to military reversals in Iraq and Syria.”
“Such terrorist acts are likely to continue and even intensify, at least initially, analysts say, as the group evolves from a quasi-state with territorial holdings to a shadowy and diffuse network with branches and cells on at least three continents.”
Indeed, while the loss of a physical sanctuary would constitute a major blow to the Islamic State — severely limiting, for example, its ability to raise money, train recruits or plan complex terrorist operations — the group’s highly decentralized nature ensures that it will remain dangerous for some time to come, according to current and former U.S. officials and terrorism experts.
”Signs of desperation are mounting weekly inside the caliphate, which shrank by another 12 percent in the first six months of 2016, according to a report last week by IHS Inc., an analysis and consulting firm.”
More signals of a coming downfall are contained in statements issued by ISIL officials over the past six weeks, a period that saw the terrorist group’s fighters retreating across multiple fronts, from Fallujah in central Iraq to the Syrian-Turkish border, according to the paper.
The Washington Post noted that a remarkable editorial last month in al-Naba, the ISIL’s weekly Arabic newsletter, offered a gloomy assessment of the caliphate’s prospects, acknowledging the possibility that all its territorial holdings could ultimately be lost. Just two years ago, ‘jihadist’ leaders heralded the start of a glorious new epoch in the world’s history with the establishment of their “Islamic caliphate,” which at the time encompassed most of eastern Syria and a vast swath of northern and western Iraq, a combined territory roughly the size of Great Britain.