Small Wars Journal

Down But Not Out: Extremists’ Evolving Strategy

Down But Not Out: Extremists’ Evolving Strategy - Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States – U.S. Institute of Peace

The U.S. State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism recently released its annual report on terrorism. The report concludes that despite the success of efforts to dismantle ISIS, “the terrorist landscape grew more complex.” Extremist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaida, and their affiliates are proving resilient and adjusting to heightened counterterrorism pressure with new attempts to destabilize, seize, and govern territory in fragile states. This shift in extremist strategy underscores the need for the kind of “preventive” approach outlined in the interim findings of the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States.

The State Department’s report finds that even as ISIS lost nearly all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, it regrouped, spreading decentralized networks of foreign fighters to fuel insurgencies in other fragile states like Libya and in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Al-Qaida has capitalized from the ISIS’ fall, “quietly” expanding its membership and operations. It continues to fight for territory and conduct attacks through local affiliates such as the al-Nusrah Front in Syria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Arabian Peninsula. The group has expanded its operations on the border regions of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and has made a renewed push after being set back in Somalia, much of which is under its control.

Despite the tactical defeat of major jihadist insurgencies, extremism has continued to spread. Extremists have established a presence in more countries now than ever before, and since 9/11, the number of individuals killed in terrorist attacks worldwide increased fivefold to over 10,000 in 2017…

Read on.