On December 19, 2018, President Trump stated that we have defeated Isis and will be withdrawing over 2,000 American troops out of Syria. Isis is an extreme militant group in the Middle East, responsible for over 90 attacks in 21 countries. They have conducted massacres in attempts to exterminate Christians, Jews and Hindus. Trump’s decision has come under much criticism. James Mattis, his Secretary of Defense, has recently resigned and John Bolton, his National Security Advisor, is adamantly opposed of Trump’s actions. Officials fear that when US troops leave Syria a vacuum will be created and Isis will reemerge to recapture enough territory to form a caliphate, Muslim state.
A spokesman for the U.K. stated there remains much to be done, and we must not lose sight of the threat Isis poses.
Since 2004 our troops and allied forces have recaptured 95% of Isis controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. However, through Isis’ internet recruitment practices, illegal finances and terrorist attacks, Isis poses a worldwide danger.
Despite Trump’s claim that Isis is defeated, it is an ongoing global threat. Illegal Financing Isis has more than 6 billion dollars making it the wealthiest terrorist organization in history. Before it’s reduction in territory, Isis largest form of funding was through the black market sale of oil seized from the fields in Iraq and Syria. Isis does not control as much territory as they once did, so Isis is now raising money in criminal activities that do not require much territory. Some of these illegal activities include extortion, money smuggling, and drug trafficking.
(Clark 2) Isis’use of extortion has proven to be profitable. Information about prominent individuals assets and income is stolen. It is used as leverage in intimidation and extortion which helps them replenish their money. They also extorted construction companies trying to rebuild cities, towns, and villages in Iraq.
The militants establish connections with local officials in charge in Iraq and ensured them their project will be completed without any interference from them. The job gets completed at a higher price and the extra money is pocketed by Isis. (Clark 3) In addition to extortion, Isis has smuggled as much as 400 million dollars when leaving Iraq and Syria. Investigators traced the money to legitimate businesses, including real estate companies, hotels, and automobile dealerships and even a car wash business. Cash was also converted into gold and stored in underground vaults in the desert. (Clark 3) The lost of territory has resulted in Isis raising money through drug trafficking. Their involvement in the drug trade provides them much needed finances. The increased surveillance along the Spanish coastline meant drugs needed to be rerouted throughout the Middle East and Europe. The US Drug Administration revealed that drugs were being taken to Islamic controlled territory in Libya and being taxed by the group and similar procedures were carried out in Iraq and Syria.
Also, an Isis linked group operating in North Africa profited from providing armed protection for cocaine trafficking there and from the trafficking of cannabis, being moved from Iraq through Syria and Turkey into Europe.(Clark 1) Terror Attacks Terror attacks by Islamic militants have occurred globally, the tactics used by these militants include bomb threats, suicide attacks, vehicle bombs, bombing and shooting sprees. In January, an Isis suicide bomber attacked a restaurant in Manbij, Syria. The attack killed 19 people including 4 Americans. The restaurant targeted was a place where Americans usually stopped to eat during patrols. The bomb was detonated as soon as the Americans and Syria militia entered the restaurant. Isis was quick to claim responsibility for the bombing.
This attack raised new questions in Congress about the president’s plan. The ranking Republican on the House of Foreign Affairs stated that the bombing was a reminder that Isis still had the capacity to carry out attacks. (Turak 1)Another bomb attack occurred in less than a week after the Manbij bombing in the northeastern province of Hassakeh, Syria. A vehicle bomb was detonated by a terrorist driver who attacked a convoy of US-led coalition and Kurdish allied forces as they were driving through a Syrian Kurdish checkpoint. Three injuries were reported but no American casualties. Isis issued a statement through online propaganda that they were responsible for the attack. A news correspondent who witnessed the attack stated that Isis is by no means beaten in Syria. (Mcguk 4,5) A bombing took place in December at Strasbourg, France at its largest Christmas market. A terrorist killed three people and wounded 12.
The Strasbourg suspect, Cherif Chekatt, was confirmed to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire with a gun and a long knife. Chekatt was found and killed by police 2 days later, Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack.(Jaeger 1) The most recent bombing occurred on Jan. 27th 2019, at the Jolo Catholic cathedral service in the Philippines. Two bombs killed about 20 people and wounded at least 81 at a predominantly Muslim Philippine island. The first bomb detonated inside the cathedral and the second bomb went off as soldiers came to the aid of the victims. The bombing came days after Jolo had rejected the referendum to create a new Muslim self-governing region that would have brought a peaceful resolution between the government and the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. For years this region has had a history of violence between Muslims and Christians. ( Holcombe 3 ) These recent terror attacks have once again reinforced the criticism that Isis has been defeated. Recruitment Isis recruits many of its members through different outlets and methods.
They use the internet for recruitment and propaganda through social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Technicians try to shut down these social media sites but as soon as they are shut down, a dozen more pop up spreading their message. Security officials state the internet is the main tool Isis is using to radicalize people and no group has been more successful at it than Isis. The terrorist organization uses recruitment in an effort to regain control of lost territory and maintain power. These militants encourage you to commit acts of terrorism by providing information on how to make explosives and acquire firearms. The videos they produce are of good quality and sound. In some cases instead of showing armed gunman in videos, they use kittens and fooling around to entice you. They want to make Isis seems like a fun and exciting group. (Rogers 1-3) A type of terrorist that acts alone is known as the “lone wolf”, they act without any outside terrorist organization. They view propaganda on the internet and get inspired to act. These kind of terrorist are the most difficult to trace for law enforcement because they do not receive any material or information from terrorist groups, and do not involve any major training ( Hunter 1 )
A lone wolf attack in London involved three men in a van plowing into pedestrians on London bridge and got out of the van and started to stab people. Dozens of people were injured and 8 killed. The men were caught and arrested but there have not been any links that Isis provided any support in this attack. ( Hunter 2 ) The United States has also experienced a lone wolf attack in Boston during a marathon. Two brothers were motivated by Islamist but were self-radicalized. They learned to make bombs on the internet by using everyday products easily found in any store.( Hunter 2 ) The sleeper cell is another type of recruitment used by Isis. The recruit blends into society and waits until they are instructed to act. They blend into Mosques, Islamic cultural centers Islamic associations, and other Islamic groups. Mosques in Europe have been proved to be especially at risk for this type of recruit. ( Kaplan 2 ) A group of sleeper cells in France hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants, and bars in one evening leaving 129 people dead. After the Paris terror attacks, French authorities raided a number of mosques and made more than 200 arrests confiscating 334 weapons. The raid led to the closure of over 109 mosques in France.
The Defense Department officials stated that Isis may have lost much of their territory but sleeper cells could take years to root out. It’s estimated to have about 20,000 to 30,000 sleeper cells both foreign and local, and stress that it is much too soon to declare that Isis is dead and buried. ( Kaplan 2 ) Prison has become a new kind of recruitment for Isis since it has entered drug trafficking. In prison, new members are radicalized and their execution of terrorist attacks are increased when they are released. ( Clark 3 ) Conclusion Isis has spread fear throughout the world through its violence and terror attacks.
President Donald J.Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria because Isis is defeated is endangering the safety of the world. The expert opinion of his advisors on the consequences of withdrawing troops too soon from Syria has been undermined by the President. The recruiting of members through the internet using social media, lone wolfs, sleeper cells and prison recruitment will continue to spread their fantastical propaganda both internationally and domestic. Isis’ new sources of illegal income through extortion, money smuggling, and drug trafficking will provide them with funds to revamp. After the President’s announcement that Isis was defeated, there were two bombings in Syria. President Trump’s decision to have our troops leave Syria poses a danger to our nation and our allies.