The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or often called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is an allied group of the famous terror group the Al-Qaida native to Iraq. ISIS became internationally recognized in 2014 when it proclaimed a worldwide caliphate, claiming religious, military and political authority over the all Muslim believers worldwide. Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph, the group has over the years gained local and international recognition as strict custodians of the Islam law. In fact, the group has been termed to as too brutal in its execution of the famous Sharia Laws that saw the Al-Qaida have it disavowed for being too extreme in its dealings (Civitarese and Borghi 2016)
Why the Group is considered the Most Dangerous
The organization is considered to be the most dangerous for so many reasons. First, as a terrorist organization, ISIS became recognized for conducting attacks on government forces and rebel factions, a more recent activity by the group being the Paris attack that killed masses. Another reason is that ISIS has so many fighters. It is estimated to have over 31000 Iraqi and Syrian fighters, foreign fighters accounting for two thirds of the total members (Cronin 2015). The fighters have recently made ISIS notorious for its beheading rituals of both soldiers, civilians, journalist and aid workers and spreading of propaganda over social media as a scare tactic to instil fear. The United Nation blames ISIS for human rights abuses, war crimes, rape and destruction of cultural heritage sites among other inhuman acts such as crusification and kidnappings for ransom.
It has also served for a long time with efforts to bring it down bearing no fruits. ISIS has been making international news for the wrong reasons for a very long time. The CIA and the US president Barrack Obama have endlessly been on the case of ISIS, relying on intelligence to try and understand the inner working of the terror group as a counter measure to bringing down the rampaging terror giant that is fast gaining control over Islamic States. Clearly, the war is on and the battle lines have been drawn. The United States is justified to lead the war against ISIS dominance over Islamic states. There is cause for alarm since the USA, just like many countries has been a potential target for the terror group who recently released a kill list that included seven cities, USA cities topping the list.
It is also considered to be the most dangerous as it targets large populations. In my opinion, these cities, Texas and Washington D.C being the most targeted are potential targets due to their large populations and political dominance respectively. Texas is home to large shopping malls which are major public areas for public gatherings of people as they shop and meet for other transactions. Washington D.C on the other hand is targeted mainly for being a house of many political figures in the US, including the White House which houses the president Barrack Obama and National Intelligence services such as the CIA. Other reasons making these areas potential hit spots include the USA`s indulgence in the fight against the terror group. After the Paris attack, US president Barrack Obama in a video released on national television explained the country`s decision to send more troops, special forces included to Syria to aid the fight against ISIS and the continued involvement of the CIA intelligence in investigating the ISIS network.
The ISIS Financial Network
To sustainably sustain ISIS requires large amount of cash. Where the Islamic nation gets its financial support remains a parable to many owing to the fact that the country is literally cut off from any financial support and is not involved in any international trade (Kegley and Blanton 2016). Interviews with top government officials from America and intelligence agents clearly pin point that group relies on a multi-structural system to aid its well spread networks. Briefcases of cash, crude oil and contrabands form art of their currencies for operation.
In a peace convention dubbed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace held in Washington, David Cohen who is the US Department of the Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence clearly stated in his speech that ISIS has amassed wealth rapidly and is using entirely different resources as compared to other terror groups making them dominant. The use of other money trafficking methods has made it had for the US to track their financiers and the terror group can only be described by Cohen as the best-funded terrorist organization. The US treasury has however declined to estimate the extent of ISIS`s total assets and total revenue streams.
A success story is however on the horizon in the war against the ISIS. The US and allied forces are currently soaring on a wind of success. They have recently liberated most cities conquered by the group by successfully pushing out the militia allied to the group. As it stands now, over 40% of the land once considered ISIS territory is now retaken. Airstrikes have killed most militia, arrest of top officials making the operation a success in waiting. The army is now targeting most oil fields and building believed to be ISIS cash storage sites. A more direct approach is the cyber-war the US is waging via the internet to help track insurgents using social media to spread fear ad communicate.
The net effect of these operation is being felt by the terror group who experienced a 30% decline in income due to the cut money making schemes (Stergiou 2016). ISIS is now rationalizing supplies as well as paying their fighters half what they used to get in a bid to ensure everyone is getting something. There is however reason to worry as the group remains well connected with networks dating hundreds of years back. Their leaders still benefit from sell of contraband, sex saves, kidnappings, crude oil and illegal arm trades, an implication that the group is still well funded.
Intelligence and its Role in Battling the Group
Intelligence tactics have played a great role in battling the ISIS. Some of the most effective methods used include intercepting communication that the terrorist group makes. This method will help in understanding what the groups are planning and their weaknesses and strength (Sorenson 2014).). Another effort is the use of tacit cooperation between ISIS and the President of Syria. The initiative will avoid direct conflict and both will target the rebel militia group in the country. Other efforts include the trans-governmental networks that promotes cooperation between different states, influencing the decision that involves reforms in politics but isolates the terrorists’ groups and promoting awareness of the looming terrorist attacks. Some of the most ineffective methods of combating ISIS include surveillance and recording of phone calls, the spreading of black propaganda, aiding the development of counter-propaganda to population supporting the group and those who are directly involved in the activities of the group and finally organizing the convert operations that in most cases never work.
Civitarese, J. K. P., & Borghi, N. (2016). Terrorism, Organizational Theory and Art Markets: Some Theoretical Considerations. Organizational Theory and Art Markets: Some Theoretical Considerations (January 21, 2016).
Cronin, A. K. (2015). ISIS is not a Terrorist Group. Foreign Affairs, 94(2), 87-98.
Kegley, C., & Blanton, S. (2016). World Politics: Trend and Transformation, 2016-2017. Nelson Education.
Sorenson, D. S. (2014). Priming strategic communications: countering the appeal of ISIS. Parameters, 44(3), 25.
Stergiou, D. (2016). ISIS political economy: financing a terror state. Journal of Money Laundering Control, 19(2).