Despite the attack in New York City an important new analysis demonstrates that the terrorists’ effectiveness has been seriously affected in the past year and is likely to continue to fade as a significant threat.
That doesn’t mean that the world can be less vigilant, but it does mean that once again the media can create a meme to downplay a major U.S. victory.
TRAC reported: “IS’s highlighting of terror attacks against civilians in Western Europe–and the mainstream media’s obsession with those attacks–serves to obscure important aspects of Islamic State strategy. While more than 200 claimed attacks in just over 100 days appears impressive to IS supporters and terrifying to the world at large, a closer look at the claims in their entirety reveals as much about Islamic State’s limitations as its aspirations.” For more information, see https://www.trackingterrorism.org/article/considering-claimed-attacks-islamic-states-hidden-narrative/introduction-summer-2017-executi
Here are some of the important findings:
• The projection of increasing global reach is inaccurate. Just three countries accounted for 175 of 222 attacks (nearly 80 percent) during last summer: Philippines (99 claims), Afghanistan (43 claims), and Egypt (33 claims). TRAC contends that these places, which receive scant Western attention, represent the narrative of IS future territory.
• To narrow the gap even further, of the three countries that hold 80 percent of the claims, just three areas in those countries accounted for 115 of 222 attacks in the summer (more than 50 percent): Marawi city in Philippines’ Autonomous Region of Muslim Majority or ARMM (67), Nangarhar province in Afghanistan (26), and Egypt’s Upper Sinai (22).
• During the summer, IS could not claim repeat attacks in 10 countries that had been attacked in 2015 and 2016. Bangladesh went from six claims in 2016 to zero in 2017. Saudi Arabia had three in 2015 and no subsequent summer repeats. Germany had just two total claims, coming in summer 2016. The inability to repeat attacks in the same location summer after summer highlights the Islamic State’s lack of sustainability.
• For last summer, the United Kingdom topped the newcomer’s list with three high-profile attacks. These three attacks received massive international attention, especially in the Western media.
• Out of the 32 total countries attacked during the past three years, only four countries—France, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt—were attacked three summers in a row. Even with the recent spate of claims in the U.K., France has been, by far the country hardest hit by IS in Europe.
Simply put, IS has been unable to launch attacks outside the Middle East and the Philippines except in rare instances in Britain and France. The Philippines government recently cleared out an IS stronghold there.
The disruption of the IS financial and geographical power in the Middle East has had a profound effect. Moreover, the destruction of the command-and-control and propaganda centers of IS in Syria and Iraq will make it more difficult to entice followers to launch attacks outside of the Middle East.
Al-Qaeda saw its influence drop dramatically after the United States closed its operational headquarters in Afghanistan. That is what is likely to happen with IS.
Again, that doesn’t mean the West can ignore the Islamist threat, particularly after the recent attack in New York City. It does mean that a continuous and concerted offensive against extremists does work.