Posted on February 19, 2019
The jihadist terror group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate”, which once ruled over nearly eight million people across Syria and Iraq, has been all but eliminated.
The temptation for triumphalism in Western capitals is overwhelming. It has taken four and a half years of relentless military pressure by a 79-nation coalition to get to this point. It has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives, many of them civilian. But people who have access to secret intelligence on the Islamic State (IS) group’s activities and intentions are calling for caution. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Alex Younger, the chief of Britain’s secret intelligence service (MI6) – an organisation that was frankly caught completely off-balance by IS’s lightning advances in 2014 – said this: “The military defeat of the ‘caliphate’ does not represent the end of the terrorist threat. We see it therefore morphing, spreading out… within Syria but also externally… This is the traditional shape of a terrorist organisation.”