Terrorism is taking on new forms since ISIS lost its territory in Syria, said expert terrorist watchers on Monday.
While the extremist group may be significantly weakened, it remains a “global shadow” fueled by a nexus with organised crime.
“A new type of danger is emerging,” said Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, President of the NATO Defense College Foundation in Rome, Italy, at a workshop held in partnership with Al Arabiya News Channel and the Italian Agenzia Dire.
Experts at the event highlighted how terrorism is now affecting more countries than ever before – but with smaller scale attacks.
“An observed trend is the increase in the number of countries impacted by terrorism in terms of its expansion, while its attacks have been less deadly,” Lea Perekrests, Deputy Director of Operations of the Institute, explained to Al Arabiya English.
In a recently published Global Terrorism Index report, the Institute for Economics and Peace found that 95 per cent of terrorist attacks in 2019 took place in conflict zones.
These attacks have been driven by illicit trade, said Jeffrey Hardy, Director-General of the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade, New York.
While legal trade has improved opportunities and helped combat poverty, extremist groups are tapping into trafficking and money laundering for funding, he said. According to Hardy, “the only way is to cut off the flow of illicit trade that in turn generates funds for these groups.”
Alongside new scope and funding sources, many extremist groups also have new motives, added Dr. Ely Karmon of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. Many groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, are not just motivated by ideology, but also by personal agenda and their relationship with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Karmon.