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
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” and their recent report Terror Gone Viral: Overview of the 100+ ISIS-Linked Plots Against the West. Yes, there’s actually 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
Daesh attacks within Syria or Iraq, Africa, or Asia unless there was an an affiliation to the aforementioned countries, 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. To hark back to the last article, these 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 an average of 10 per attack over 2015. Those numbers only run through July. 40% of the 103 plots were targeted at the United States and its interests.
Clearly, 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 any more 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
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.
About the author
Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at 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 multiple 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 opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.