In this new BICOM research series, we have brought together experts to evaluate the future of the Middle East after the Islamic State (IS). We asked a selection of leading authorities on the Islamic State to provide critical assessments of the prospects for reconstruction and governance in IS-held territory, the future of the Jihadi movement, how to mitigate against the return of IS fighters, and the future regional security framework. Below are their responses.
The Fall of Raqqa
Kyle Orton reflects on the US led coalition’s latest military victory against the Islamic State in Raqqa city. Orton argues that the coalition’s emphasis on time, rather than method and durability, will not be sufficient to destroy the terrorist group and prevent its re-emergence, which finds more favourable terrain now in the Middle East than when the group was severely defeated after the Arab Awakening in 2008-10. Read More.
Where will ISIS regroup?
Dr Ely Karmon assesses where Islamic State fighters are likely to regroup after their territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, highlighting the recent growth of ISIS presence in Afghanistan and evaluating whether the new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will make a difference. Read more
Egypt as an area of growing activity for Jihad operatives
Dr Michael Barak identifies Egypt as an area of growing activity for ISIS, as the movement loses its territorial integrity in Iraq and Syria and the Global Jihad movement continues to view the Egyptian regime as one of the jihad movement’s most bitter enemies. Read more
Post-Caliphate copycats and cyberterrorism
Julia Ebner identifies cyber attacks and low-tech, high-impact attacks with targets and weapons picked at random as two threats we are likely to see an increase of after the territorial defeat of ISIS, and argues that such a territorial defeat will not signal an ideological defeat for the organisation. Read more
How ISIS has changed the terrorist threat in the UK: an interview with David Wells
BICOM research analyst Samuel Nurding spoke with David Wells about the new domestic threat posed by ISIS and returning Jihadists. Wells is Associate Director at S-RM – Business Intelligence, Risk Management & Cyber Security and a former counter-terrorism official for the UK and Australian governments. Read more.
The future of the Jihadi movement
Tore Hamming argues that the global Jihadi movement is constantly transforming and evolving in order to survive. Ultimately, the fragmentation within the Jihadi movement after the fall of ISIS may re-focus Jihadist groups towards becoming more strategic in their approach, thus strengthening the broader Jihadi current. Read more
An interview with Max Abrahms
BICOM research analyst Samuel Nurding interviews Max Abrahms on the counter-terrorism lessons to be learnt from the rise and fall of ISIS. Read more
Tending flowers in the desert – Craig Whiteside
Craig Whiteside examines how counterinsurgency tactics currently being used by the Iraqi government’s security forces – such as population expulsions, extrajudicial killings, and mass incarceration – could influence the future rise of another “Islamic State” organisation. Read more
Get ready for ISIS 2.0 – Seth J. Frantzman
Seth J. Frantzman argues that the West has mistakenly viewed ISIS as separate from the broader Islamist terrorist network, and is therefore unprepared to prevent its fighters, as well as the next generation of fighters, from joining other like-minded groups in order to re-emerge as a kind of ISIS 2.0. Read more
The Islamic State: Baqiya? – Aymenn al-Tamimi
Aymenn al-Tamimi argues that whilst ISIS is no longer expanding (tatamaddad) its territory, it has been preparing for the fall of its Caliphate by utilising its “fallback” from cities in Iraq and Syria as mini-tests for how it can remain (baqiya) after its supposed defeat by the West. Read more
The Western odyssey in defeating ISIS – Kyle Orton
Kyle Orton argues that the current fragmentation in the West’s approach to defeating ISIS, and the lack of local, legitimate governance to replace the areas left behind, provide favourable conditions which allow ISIS to regain a foothold in parts of Iraq and Syria from which it has already been expelled. Read more