US aircraft pound ISIS stronghold in Iraq
US aircraft pound ISIS stronghold in Iraq US Air Force
The Islamic State group (ISIS, Daesh in Arabic) has disappeared from the headlines in the media but that doesn’t mean the jihadist organization itself has vanished. Israel should be worried about one development especially, that recently occurred in Lebanon where Daesh terrorists coming from Syria are now trying to entrench themselves.

Currently, the most powerful branch of Daesh is Wilayat Khorasan (Islamic State Pakistan (ISP) in English) a branch that was founded in Pakistan and later expanded its activities to Afghanistan where it now tries to terrorize the new Taliban regime.

The Daesh branch recently carried out attacks against the Taliban in Logar, Nangarhar, and Kunar provinces.

From its side, the Taliban attacked positions of Wilayat Khorasan in the cities Kabul, Jalalabad, and Kandahar in December 2021.

In the capital, Kabul Taliban forces killed an ISP suicide bomber on December 19 last year before the ‘martyr’ could blow himself up in front of the passport department where a large crowd was waiting to obtain travel documents in order to flee Afghanistan.

The Taliban announced it will establish “martyrdom brigades”, a battalion of suicide bombers that will be integrated into the Afghan army and will be used for “special operations.” Talibann spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Wilayat Khorasan also tries to undermine the government in Pakistan by carrying out terror attacks, while the Taliban try to do the same.

The local Taliban branch Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) renewed its violent activity after a month-long ceasefire agreement with the government expired on 9 December 2021.

The Jihadist activity in Pakistan is extremely worrisome as the Muslim country has an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

A TTP or ISP take-over of Pakistan would be even more dangerous to the world than a nuclear-armed Iran since even the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei behaves more rationally than these Jihadist groups.

Daesh in Lebanon

Amidst the continuing chaos in Lebanon, Daesh is attemptin to entrench itself in the country by bringing in terrorists from Syria and Iraq and by recruiting disgruntled young Lebanese.

A group of 65 Lebanese youth from Tripoli recently joined the ranks of Daesh that increased its terrorist activities in northern Lebanon and was involved in a shooting attack on a Lebanese army officer.

Daesh offers $1.500 to each of these young Lebanese and asks them in return to take part in terrorist activities in both Syria and Iraq.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported last month that a significant amount of light and heavy weapons (RPG’s and mortars), as well as ammunition, had been smuggled into Lebanon by Daesh.

It should be noted that the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is not the only actor in the Middle East that aims to destroy Israel.

Daesh also declared that the elimination of the Jewish state is one of its goals as its assassinated leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stated when his Caliphate was still on the rise.

The jihadist group carried out a terror attack in Israel in June 2017, when a Palestinian terror cell in the Old City of Jerusalem launched a shooting attack against Israeli Border Police officers, killing officer Hadas Malka.

Some Arab media now warn that the presence of Daesh in Lebanon could turn into a new threat for Israel since it has promised to join the “March on al-Quds (Jerusalem).”

Insurgency in Iraq

After the US announced the end of its combat mission in Iraq on December 9 last year Daesh immediately stepped up its terrorist activity in the war-torn country.

Following the disappearance of the Caliphate, Daesh is slowly regrouping in both Iraq and Syria, forming sleeper cells and waging guerilla warfare (Harb al isabat in Arabic) against Iraqi and Western troops.

Between January 2020 and September 2021 Daesh claimed an average of 90 operations per month in Iraq, which showed it continued to be a highly active and lethal force.

In Iraqi Kurdistan alone, Daesh launched 257 terrorist attacks in 2021 resulting in 387 deaths, 518 people injured, and 37 kidnapped. The US-led coalition against Daesh of 79 countries responded by launching 626 counterattacks.

Daesh’s new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi has maintained a low profile but is behind the switch to guerilla warfare and the uptick in terrorist attacks ever since the US ended its combat mission on December 31 last year.

Observers fear that the same thing that occurred in 2011 will happen now. Then US President Barack Obama made good on his promise to pull out the US military completely from Iraq.

The retreat of the US army quickly led to the rise of Daesh that was founded in 1999 by Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when it pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

Al-Zarqawi’s group participated in the first insurgency after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 and was the main force responsible for the destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in the second offensive by the US-led coalition against al-Qaeda in November and December 2004.

Daesh attacks continue to sow mayhem in Iraq. Less than two weeks ago Daesh’ suicide bombers attacked Iraqi army positions in the city Abukamal on the Syrian border, killing 8 Iraqi soldiers and wounding scores of others.

Last week Daesh kidnapped five people in Iraq and this probably is what triggered a reaction from the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Sha’abi organization of predominantly Shiite militias.

Hashd al-Sha’abi launched a major operation that aims to hunt down Daesh terrorists in Baghdad and the rural areas in eastern Iraq.

A similar operation was launched in December 2021 when Hashd al-Sha’abi militias combed the Hamrin mountains in the Diaal province in eastern Iraq.

Daesh activity in Syria

In Syria, too, Daesh remains a force to be reckoned with.

The Assad regime tries to reduce the danger Daesh poses by expelling Daesh members and their families to Iraq and by requesting Russian airstrikes on positions of the Jihadist organization in eastern Syria.

Assad decided to expel the Daesh members to Iraq after a series of murders in the notorious Al-Hol refugee camp that is home to many families affiliated with Daesh and has seen at least 90 murders executed by Daesh jihadists in the past year.

The latest murder of a Syrian paramedic who worked for the Kurdish Red Crescent in Al-Hol most likely triggered the decision to expel 110 Daesh families from the camp.

On Thursday, the Russian air force killed 11 Daesh jihadists and wounded 20 others in the east Syrian desert while they were on their way to attack the city of Deir Ezzur in eastern Syria.

In 2021 alone, Daesh launched 342 terror attacks in Syria killing 228 civilians and 135 Syrian soldiers and other security personnel. Among the casualties were also members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The increase in the activities of Daesh in both Syria and Iraq at the end of 2021 was foreseen by the Pentagon, which published a report on Daesh on September 30 last year.

The report said that after a decrease of activities in the months leading up to September, Daesh would most likely “increase activity in the coming quarter after a period of recovery and recuperation.”

This all shows that the war against Daesh is far from over and therefore the American decision to end the combat mission against the jihadists in Iraq seems to be premature.

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