Is­lamic State spreads to three con­ti­nents

Re­port coun­ters Obama claims that ter­ror­ist group is shrink­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

The six Is­lamic State fran­chises sin­gled out in the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice re­port, “Is­lamic State and U.S. Pol­icy,” are not sim­ply cells but vi­able armies with train­ing bases, airto-air mis­siles and anti-tank weapons, and hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of fighters.

The Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist group has cre­ated at least six func­tion­ing armies out­side its Iraq-Syria base that threaten gov­ern­ments in Africa, the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing to a re­port to Congress.

Rather than shrink­ing, the Is­lamic State — also known as ISIL and ISIS — is metas­ta­siz­ing glob­ally by at­tract­ing waves of hench­men in Libya, Egypt, Nige­ria, Saudi Ara­bia, Ye­men and Afghanistan, the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice said in a June 14 re­port for law­mak­ers.

The fact that six ir­reg­u­lar Is­lamic State armies are op­er­at­ing on three con­ti­nents, not to men­tion var­i­ous cells in Europe and the U.S., is in con­trast to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s gen­er­ally up­beat re­ports on con­tain­ing the vi­o­lent group.

In another break from that pos­i­tive White House mes­sage, CIA Di­rec­tor John O. Bren­nan told the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence that, while the Is­lamic State has lost ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria, as well as thou­sands of fighters in those two coun­tries, its abil­ity to di­rect or in­spire ter­ror­ist at­tacks re­mains ro­bust.

“Our ef­forts have not re­duced the group’s ter­ror­ism ca­pa­bil­ity and global reach,” Mr. Bren­nan said.

The Is­lamic State’s abil­ity to op­er­ate ter­ror­ist fran­chises across mul­ti­ple re­gions presents for­mi­da­ble chal­lenges to stretched U.S. forces now fo­cused on the group’s IraqSyria base.

The six fran­chises sin­gled out in the CRS re­port, “Is­lamic State and U.S. Pol­icy,” are not sim­ply cells but vi­able armies with train­ing bases, air-to-air mis­siles and anti-tank weapons, and hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of fighters.

The Is­lamic State in Egypt. Be­gun in 2014 in the Si­nai Penin­sula, the unit is at­tract­ing Be­douin Arabs, Pales­tini­ans from across the bor­der and for­eign fighters. Its sol­diers have been pho­tographed hold­ing shoul­der-fired anti-air­craft mis­siles that could bring down a com­mer­cial air­liner. The Si­nai group may have more than 1,000 mem­bers, whose siren call is that one day its fol­low­ers will in­vade Is­rael.

It claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for bring­ing down Metro­jet Flight 9268 over the Si­nai with a bomb dis­guised as a soda can, killing all 224 peo­ple on­board on Oct. 31, 2015.

The Is­lamic State in Saudi Ara­bia. It has taken credit for a se­ries of at­tacks since 2014, and calls on its fol­low­ers to kill the king­dom’s cler­ics and se­cu­rity forces. A group fighter blew him­self up in a Kuwait mosque last year, killing more than two dozen peo­ple. The Saudi gov­ern­ment has ar­rested more than 1,600 Is­lamic State fol­low­ers, a num­ber that in­di­cates the group’s mes­sage is res­onat­ing in a coun­try that al­ready prac­tices a strict form of Sunni Is­lam.

“[Is­lamic State] lead­ers claim to have es­tab­lished a caliphate to which all pious Sunni Mus­lims owe al­le­giance, di­rectly chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of Saudi lead­ers who have long claimed a unique role as Sunni lead­ers and sup­port­ers of par­tic­u­lar Salafist in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Sunni Is­lam,” the CRS re­port says.

The Is­lamic State in Libya. This is the ter­ror­ist group’s largest fran­chise, with as many as 6,000 fighters who threaten the shaky gov­ern­ment in Tripoli. It con­trols large sec­tions of ter­ri­tory, but is un­der pres­sure from gov­ern­ment troops who have cap­tured much of the coastal city of Sirte. Is­lamic State

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