Daesh’s Global Presence and Homeland Threats

The smallest  action  you  do  in  their  heartland  is better  and  more  enduring  to  us  than  what  you would  if  you  were  with  us.  If  one  of  you  hoped  to reach  the  Islamic  State,  we  wish  we  were  in  your place to punish the Crusaders day and night.
ABU MOHAMMED AL-ADNANI
ISIS Audio Recording
May 2016

Following up on my last article regarding new research about the typical patterns of radicalization of lone and solo actor terrorists, this week I’m bringing you the House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security’s August “Terror Threat Snapshot.”

Their recent report Terror Gone Viral: Overview of the 100+ ISIS-Linked Plots Against the West.  Yes, there’s a connection, it’s not just me trying to plug the last article.  First off, some stats – according to the report, since 2014, there have been 103 plots to attack the “West,” which is  “countries  located  in  Europe  and  North  America,  as  well  as Australia, or targets affiliated with those countries outside of the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq.”  The report does not cover

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before Congress.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before Congress.

Daesh attacks within Syria or Iraq, Africa, or Asia unless there was an affiliation to the countries mentioned above, meaning that there are many attacks not considered.  In 2016, Daesh was successful in 44% of their plots, up 13% from last year.  Of those plots, 47% were directed Vice inspired, up 12% from last year.  Back to the previous article, this 47 % fit the profile of a solo actor versus a lone actor (the “lone wolf” tag in its truest sense it refers to lone actor terrorists, meaning an attacker who is inspired by but receives no assistance from, a terrorist group).  The successful attacks are also more deadly, with an average of 58 casualties per attack in 2016, up to an average of 10 per attack over 2015.  Those numbers only run through July.  40% of the 103 plots targeted the United States and its interests.

Apparently, Daesh continues to globalize their operations, which U.S. intelligence has been warning would happen as Daesh continues to lose ground.  While recent success in Iraq is certainly fantastic news for those who have suffered under Daesh’s direct rule, it doesn’t mean the threat is anymore neutralized.

Reports estimate that Daesh has 34 groups pledging allegiance and eight official branches, located in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories (Gaza), Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (North Caucasus region), Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.  Of these, the Libyan group is considered the most dangerous outside of the Iraq/Syria theater.

Their reach isn’t limited to far away lands.  In the span of seven days in July, three U.S. citizens were arrested for planning attacks.  Each was either actively receiving direction from Daesh, had previously met with Daesh representatives, or was actively seeking direction from Daesh.  Referring back to the research in the last article, at least one of these individuals had friends who knew of his allegiance, and he had posted on Facebook of his intentions.  FBI Director James Comey testified in May that as many as 800 of the FBI’s over 1,000 active “homegrown terror investigations” are linked to Daesh.  The threat isn’t just limited to active attack plots.  Since 2014, 105 individuals had either been arrested or charged in absentia for plots, traveling to join Daesh, or providing material support to Daesh.  For those of you who follow the news it’s no surprise, but in those same years we’ve seen seven terrorists killed

Incoming Commanding General Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend (second left) chats with Commanding Officer Training Task Unit Task Group Taji Lieutenant Colonel David McCammon, DSM (right) and Commander Task Group Taji Colonel Andrew Lowe (second right) during his visit to the Taji Military Complex in Iraq. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is a multinational effort to weaken and destroy Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant operations in the Middle East region and around the world. (Australian Defence Force photo by LSIS Jake Badior)
Incoming Commanding General Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend (second left) chats with Commanding Officer Training Task Unit Task Group Taji Lieutenant Colonel David McCammon, DSM (right) and Commander Task Group Taji Colonel Andrew Lowe (second right) during his visit to the Taji Military Complex in Iraq. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is a multinational effort to weaken and destroy Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant operations in the Middle East region and around the world. (Australian Defence Force photo by LSIS Jake Badior)

carrying out five attacks in four states.  According to the reporting, “(n)early 90 percent of the ISIS supporters charged in the U.S. are male and approximately 35 percent of them are converts to Islam; their average age is 26.”

Six months into 2016, and almost eighteen months into the military battle against Daesh, gains have been made on the ground, thanks to U.S.-supported Iraqi forces; however, Daesh continues to be a threat around the world and has demonstrated its ability to strike globally and with deadly effect.

Further Reading:

https://homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/100-ISIS-Linked-Plots-Report-.pdf

https://homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/August-Terror-Threat-Snaphot.pdf

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served in various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for many National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

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