By Roland Jacquard
French author and consultant, president of Roland Jacquard Comprehensive Security Consultancy..
Do you think that the successive defeats (ISIS) faces in his strongholds in Syria and Iraq mean the end of this terrorist organization?
– The liberation of Mosul and Raqqa split the state of the alleged “caliphate” founded by ISIS in June 2014. The defeats of the terrorist organization in Tal Afar and Hawija on the Iraqi side, and in Deir al-Zour, on the Syrian side, then came the process of restoring the Iraqi army to the “Elkayem” border which is very important at the symbolic level. The destruction of this border crossing was the founding event of the so-called “Islamic State”, where he sought to abolish the boundaries inherited from the Sykes-Picot Agreement and revive the Caliphate.
But that does not mean that we will see an end soon. After the collapse of the so-called “Caliphate” state, the organization is now heading back to what it was before June 2014. Having to give up the dream of caliphate, in which he aspired to establish what he calls “the Islamic state,” and that is would force him to restore his original state to become a mere terrorist organization according to the Jihadist model.
ISIS candidate to continue, but where to expect to resort after the collapse of his alleged Islamic state?
– By tightening the screws on it, the organization will try to resort the areas where it can find an incubator environment to help it to keep out of sight, to escape the blows inflicted by the International Coalition In Iraq. there will be no doubt that the areas that were the strongholds of jihad before 2014, especially in the provinces of Anbar and Diala. I am talking specifically about areas like Ramadi, Falluja and other towns which is known as the Sunni Belt around Baghdad.
On the Syrian side, he will have no choice except assembling his remnants in the “Euphrates Valley”. This desert band is traditionally a breeding ground for all kinds of smuggling. Since the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, this region has become the backbone of the various jihadi organizations.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that ISIS will try to redeploy some of its components from fighters of non-Middle Eastern origins to other “battlefields”. We are beginning to see the signs of this jihadist influx into Libya, Black Africa and even Asia, where new jihadist fronts have been formed as in Philippine or Uzbekistan for example.
– What changes do you expect to result from a shift from a semi-state to a terrorist network? How will this be reflected on its organizational structure and deliberate methods of managing its operations?
– ISIS will find himself in a situation similar to that known by al-Qaeda after September 11, 2001 attacks, and the collapse of its safe haven in Afghanistan. The collapse of the so-called “caliphate” state would deprive ISIS from the vast areas it controlled. The organization would lose the geographical area of its strongholds, centers of recruitment and training, which would have allowed it to reap huge sums of money unprecedented in the history of terrorist organizations and armed groups. Mainly through oil smuggling operations.
The most important change would be that, like al-Zawahri’s famous words, al-Qaeda would become an “army without a land.” Thus, the organization cannot continue to rely on the spontaneous flow of those who want to be a jihadist and automatically join the state of the caliphate. Thus, he will be asked more than once to convince and attract every new fighter. That will not be an easy task because leaders and advocates will have to hide, to avoid pursuing by the counter-terrorism apparatus.
For this reason and as we have seen in al-Qaeda after September 11, 2001 it will inevitably become impulsive towards a non-hierarchical organizational structure and that is will deprivie it from its central leadership. The structure of the former “caliphate” state would therefore be transformed into a gel network of components and branches and even it is considered a part of ISIS but operating independently because the parent organization would no longer be able to manage its activities centrally.
From this perspective, and in light of the precedent set by al-Qaeda during the ten years following the September 11 attacks we can be sure that this fragmentation will not necessarily weaken its ability to carry out terrorist strikes. On the contrary, terrorism after the collapse of the “Caliphate” will go towards further globalization, which will make its arms expand more and more on the five continents.
Then, we will witness the emergence of a new jihadist organization that will be the seventh of its kind since the first international organization founded by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri in Sudan in the early 1990s.