ISIS may target West as pressure mounts, expert tells ‘Post’

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May 2, 2016 07:13

Terrorist group upped attacks in Iraq and Syria – IHS Jane’s researchers.

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Masked Belgian police secure the entrance to a building in Schaerbeek during police operations following Tuesday's bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 25, 2016. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Islamic State is likely going to intensify attacks worldwide in the short term, but could slow down as the group suffers more losses, the head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“We can anticipate this kind of intensification to continue into the short term, but there are doubts as to whether such an operational tempo is sustainable beyond that as the group suffers increased manpower and territorial losses,” said Matthew Henman, head of the center.

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“A key element will be attempting to displace the conflict, perhaps relying increasingly on its multiple affiliates to launch retributive operations – particularly in the West,” he said.

Islamic State has increased its operations in Iraq and Syria, according to an IHS report released on Sunday night.

Figures for the number of attacks in those countries in the first three months of 2016 compiled by IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center were the highest since the Sunni group took Mosul in 2014. This included the most fatalities since the second quarter of 2015.

The center recorded 891 attacks and 2,150 fatalities of civilians and security personnel in Syria and Iraq between January 1 and March 31, 2016, representing increases of 16.7 percent and 43.9 percent, respectively, in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Following territorial losses, we are seeing a steady upward trend in the tempo of Islamic State operations worldwide, but particularly in Syria and Iraq,” said Henman.

“Attack and fatality numbers have jumped. The group is resorting more and more to mass-casualty violence as it comes under heavy pressure from multiple angles.”

Henman pointed out that Islamic State also intensified its attacks in Libya over the first three months of the year.

“After a seeming period of consolidation and preparation, Islamic State forces in the country launched a series of major attacks on critical energy infrastructure in addition to conducting the deadliest single attack since the overthrow of the government of Muammar Gaddafi in August 2011,” he said.

In addition, he continued, Islamic State in Russia’s Caucasus region continues to expand its activities. It carried out one confirmed small-arms attack in late 2015 compared to an improvised explosive device attack and two suicide car bombings during the first three month in 2016.

Henman also noted that since the US operation that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden five years ago this May, the group has lost its mantle of leadership to Islamic State.

“The Islamic State has established itself as the self-professed true vanguard of militant Islamism and the only game in town,” he said.

“While Islamic State dominates the headlines and global discourse on terrorism and insurgency, al-Qaida’s four primary affiliates continue to pose a significant and expanding threat in their respective areas of operation that should not be overlooked,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said over the weekend that since Islamic State declared a caliphate in June 2014, it has carried out 4,144 executions.

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