Islamic militancy

Stepped-up attacks by Islamic State must be met by a united international response

The militant group recognises no borders, as witnessed by massacres carried out across the world

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 July, 2016, 12:53am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 July, 2016, 12:53am

Ideology knows no bounds, as the massacres claimed by the extremist group Islamic State so far this year prove. Even as it has lost territory on the battlefield, attacks have been staged by its fighters or those inspired by its beliefs on four continents. In the past few weeks alone, major assaults have been carried out in Saudi Arabia, in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Bangladesh and at Turkey’s main airport. The shifting tactics require an even more strenuous united international effort to defeat the threat.

Stepped-up air strikes by a US alliance, Russia and Middle Eastern nations have dramatically reduced the group’s self-declared caliphate in northern Iraq and Syria. Oilfields under its control have been destroyed, curbing revenue vital for operations. The group admitted yesterday that one of its top military commanders, Abu Omar al-Shishani, had been killed in fighting near the Iraqi city of Mosul. But its losses have not dented ambitions and it aims to widen its global reach.

US sending more troops back to Iraq

IS has been charting its influence through maps on its websites and on the second anniversary of its caliphate last month, the claimed area under its influence stretched from the Philippines to France. Within a week, after a call to stage strikes to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, well-planned attacks involving suicide bombers and gunmen had claimed 45 lives at Ataturk airport in Istanbul, 20 at a café popular with foreigners in Dhaka, about 290 at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad and four in a wave of strikes across Saudi Arabia. Each involved multiple assailants, as did the assaults in Paris last October and Brussels in March. Apart from the IS-inspired “lone wolf” strikes in the US in Orlando and San Bernardino, there have also been attacks in Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Kuwait.

Intelligence officials have warned that the group is likely to intensify its campaign to maintain its allure and dominance of the global terrorism agenda. Stepping up intelligence is only part of the solution. Governments have to pool resources and truly work together.