Terrorism and ISIS: What’s next after triple attacks?

With attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France it is hard to say the actual extent of IS` control over these operations, but it seems that ISIS` calls for more attacks during Ramadan are quite inspirational. Do you expect more attacks and how to counter it in your opinion? Read few comments.

Jean-Marc Rickli, Assistant Professor, Department of Defence Studies, King’s College London and Qatar National Defence College

It is very likely that the month of Ramadan will be very violent. This week the IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani calls “calamity for the infidels … Shi’ites and apostate Muslims” during the time of Ramadan. Ramadan is seen as an important symbolic period for IS.  A year ago, Daesh declared its Caliphate; two years ago IS predecessor, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) freed prisoners from Abu Ghraib; three years ago they launched a bombing campaign  against security forces and Shiite in Iraq. This year, Daesh has released a new video showing three new modes of executions this week. In addition they attacked Kobane and massacred around 140 civilians. More symbolic actions such as actions on Baghdad should be expected during Ramadan.

Daesh is also radiating abroad. This is even more important since they suffered some tactical defeats against Kurdish forces around its capital Raqqa over the last two weeks. Thus, encouraging official franchises or Daesh sympathisers to conduct operations against non-Muslims and moderate Muslims such as those in France or Tunisia is very important for the group. The essence of the success of Daesh relies on constantly hitting the headlines. Their strategy of shock and awe has two purposes: instigating a climate of fears and uncertainty from which ultimately they benefit and using this rhetoric to recruit new supporters.

The strategy of countering Daesh is very different if we talk about Syria and Iraq and if we talk about its franchises and its supporters abroad. For Iraq and to a lesser extent Syria, it is about uniting local Sunni forces on the ground. In addition in Syria, the conflict with Assad has to be solved. In countries where Daesh franchises have been declared, Libya, Yemen, or Saudi Arabia among other, the solutions are country specific but they all imply denying the local Daesh franchises the ability to destabilise the country through the creation of sectarian conflicts. In Europe, Daesh relies on existing Islamic networks, returned foreign fighters and lone wolfs. It is impossible to protect all critical infrastructures. Thus, the only effective answer is intelligence. These people must be identified well in advance, monitored and arrested. Yet, as mentioned above, total control is impossible and with lone wolfs more terrorist attacks are bound to happen and it is almost impossible to detect. Against this, populations have to be educated to be resilient and to absorb the shock and to continue a normal life. Terrorism is about terrorising people, thus a resilient society is one that can prevent terrorist from establishing a climate of fear.

Sam Mullins, Professor of Counterterrorism, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

So far it certainly seems that disrupted plots and attacks conducted in ISIS’ name outside of its territory (particularly in the West) have been more a case of inspirational influence rather than “hands on” operational control. Having said that, we can’t rule this out in today’s cases until more information becomes available, and of course anything is possible in the future. As for the significance of Ramadan, it’s important to bear in mind that even relatively simple attacks often take time to plan. The fact that we are still at the beginning of Ramadan now suggests that these attacks were probably being planned already (and almost without doubt the perpetrators had been radicalized for some time). There are no statistics I’m aware of that demonstate an increased risk of jihadist attacks during Ramadan- certainly not in Western countries at least. However, successful attacks often inspire others to follow suit, so that in itself adds a certain level of risk. On the other hand, you can be sure that authorities in all countries facing this problem will now be on heightened alert.

Edwin BakkerProfessor, Director Centre for Terrorism & Counter Terrorism, Leiden University

Attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, France and do not forget Kobane: about 150 killed, how did IS get to Kobane, through Turkey?

What I know through my sources about the French case: no sign of direct IS control. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that IS apparently does not have the capacity/network to coordinate attacks. The bad news is, they do not even need that. Although it to early to tell if this also holds for today’s cases, it seems that a call by the IS leadership is enough to inspire others around the world to stage an attack. Unfortunately, I expect more of them. But in the case of Europe, let us not make the threat bigger than it is. In the case of France it was not a sophisticated attack. I expect more or them, in France, and elsewhere. What to do about it: the main task is for the intelligence services: find possible perpetrators in time. This is difficult as we cannot monitor all returning foreign fighters, radicalized persons or supporters of IS. This means that society has to become more resilient. This will happen more often in Europe. Not that we should accept this, but – as with other serious crimes like murder – it is part of society and we have to deal with it. Let us not do the terrorists a favour to go crazy every time something like this happens: as the British say, let us keep calm and carry on.

Mathieu Guidère, Writer, Professor, University of Toulouse

Yes, I expect more attacks because ISIS is celebrating one year of existence.

The best and fastest way to counter it is to stop coalition’s bombing against ISIS.



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