The self-proclaimed Islamic State(ISIS) did not, simply, come into existence when its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of the so-called Caliphate in June 2014. As a matter of fact, this organization is an extension of al-Qaeda that has been around since 2003, in Iraq, where it was led by one of al-Baghdadi’s Sheikhs, namely, Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi.
After pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden, in 2004, al-Zarqawi changed the name of his terrorist organization from al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn. In January 2006, this organization became part of the Mujahideen Shura Council that was an umbrella organization of at least six Sunni Islamic insurgent groups.
When al-Zarqawi was killed in June 2006, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir was elected as new leader of the organization. Abu Hamza al- muhajir served as Minister of War of ISIS. He was First Deputy of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who had been leader of the organization since 2006, until he was killed in 2010, when he was succeeded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
From the very beginning, the organization raised the slogan”remaining and expanding”. This has been the case, partially at least, in the first two years of its life, when it managed to dominate almost half the area of Iraq and one third of Syria. When Iraqi army troops retreated from al-Mosul without any resistance, leaving behind them huge amounts of weapons and equipment, the city became the capital of ISIS, that also conquered other parts of the country, including oil-rich areas of Kirkuk and important religious centers of the Shia doctrine including Samarra, very close to the capital, Baghdad.
Raqqa, on the northeast bank of the Euphrates river was made the capital of ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, the organization controlled most of the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor, along with parts of the countryside north of Aleppo, parts of Qalamun, northeast of the capital Damascus and different swathes in central Syria.
The fast ascension of ISIS was equalled by a fast decline. The organization lost most of the areas under its control in Iraq and Syria as a result of international military intervention in co-operation with Iraqi forces.
In Libya, ISIS has been able to conquer only one city, Sirte in north-central Libya, and only for one year, at the end of which the organization was forced to evacuate it under military pressure from the pro-government forces al-Bunyan al-Marsus.
To realize its dream of domination of the Muslim world, ISIS relies on its strategy of spreading terror in various countries over a number of successive stages that begin with ” the yoke of vexation and fatigue”, to be followed by “management of savagery/chaos” and finally by “assuming authority and the rise of the State”. The countries where this strategy is to be carried out should be possessed of certain qualities, like geographic depth and a terrain conducive to management of savagery/chaos. The political regime in a targeted country should be fragile, threatened by a surge of Islamic Jihadism, and by arms being easily obtainable by anyone in the country, according to the treatise authored by ISIS prominent Jihadist chief Abu Bakr al-Naghi.
ISIS had various sources of revenue, including covert external financial sources secretly extended to them by governments wary of international penalties. Other sources of revenue for ISIS came, first and foremost, from oil-rich areas under its control in addition to trafficking in movable antiquities, unlike huge antiquities pulled down by the organization. Bank robberies, levies and taxes under the name of Zakat, slave trade and trafficking in persons, especially Yazidi women, were also among their sources of revenue.
Having lost its economic resources, its administrative structures, its military might, and huge numbers of its cadres, ISIS has nothing left but its dream of fake Caliphate and a few scattered remnants of its former force. Now it is facing seven possible scenarios :
First, the United States may officially announce that the organization has been annihilated.
Second, new versions of the organization may be put together, under different names, to carry on the same role in the post-ISIS period.
Third, it may turn out that the organization as the “State” has come to an end, but it still exists as an idea, so as the idea may be able to “remain and expand”.
Fourth, the organization may regroup inside one of its outside Velayats (provinces) like Libya, Yemen, Egypt, South Asia or Afghanistan, known in the media as “Velayat of Khorasan. This scenario may be the least possible as the above mentioned countries do not meet the necessary criteria.
Fifth, the organization may take up standard guerilla warfare.
Sixth, the world community may treat “ISIS in Syria” and “ISIS in Iraq” differently, so that different factions in Iraq may forgo their sectarianism and gather around one cause; to rid their country of the menace of ISIS.
Seventh, to extend savagery and chaos to new theatres in Europe and North America.