ISIS migration is increasingly dangerous
The terror outfit is only growing stronger as it makes the world its operational space
During Ramadan, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) suicide bombers killed hundreds in different cities, including Istanbul, Baghdad and Madinah. Each attack held symbolism – a packed airport, a busy business district, Islam’s second-holiest site.
The upswing in suicide attacks during Ramadan was not because ISIS sees itself as on the verge of defeat. It is only growing stronger as it makes the world its operational space so as to spread its ideology, aggression and evil ways. The terrorist movement believes its so-called caliphate exists, whether in a physical sense or in its own imagination. It is the imaginary aspect we should be concerned about.
We are witnessing the evolution of a group via purposeful and thoughtful strategic adjustment. It is now present in Southeast Asia in a much more robust way, and is expanding into sub-Saharan Africa for new planning and operating grounds with regional and international reach.
While the caliphate’s heart may have shrunk, ISIS’s limbs are extending as individuals seek to instill insecurity and fear in its name to achieve personal notoriety.
We are witnessing the evolution of a group via purposeful and thoughtful strategic adjustment. It is now present in Southeast Asia in a much more robust way, and is expanding into sub-Saharan AfricaDr. Theodore Karasik
ISIS’s violent tactics may reach new levels as it expands. At least two tactics should be taken into consideration during this strategic shift: attacking Iran and using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Many have asked why ISIS has not launched terrorist attacks in Iran, given that Tehran backs the Iraqi and Syrian governments, and funds Shiite militias battling the group in Iraq.
While Iran’s internal security is robust, evidence suggests ISIS may send Tehran a sharp and clear message via a terrorist attack. According to a recent report, ISIS intended to attack more than 50 sites in Tehran and other Iranian cities during this year’s Ramadan.
In the near term, an attack in Iran seems inevitable. When it occurs, regional tensions will jump considerably. ISIS knows this, so it is a card to be played sooner rather than later.
A WMD attack by ISIS should be considered during its evolution and migration. It has already used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Iraq against the Kurds numerous times. ISIS also possesses sodium cyanide, a toxic chemical and precursor to the warfare agent tabun.
These materials can be used to poison water supplies to instill fear. ISIS is able to attract foreigners with degrees in physics, chemistry and computer sciences, and access poisonous substances.
Its use of WMD would not be a sign of desperation, but part of its new strategic and tactical environment on a global scale. WMD would cause the chaos necessary to achieve the next phase in its evolution.
ISIS is more dangerous than ever and nowhere near defeat. It is time to take a correct reading of where it is going, and the scenarios that could bring confrontation to a whole new level.
Dr. Theodore Karasik is a Gulf-based analyst of regional geo-political affairs. He received his Ph.D in History from UCLA in Los Angeles, California in four fields: Middle East, Russia, Caucasus, and a specialized sub-field in Cultural Anthropology focusing on tribes and clans. He tweets @tkarasik