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Striking Back at the ISIS’s Foreign Fighter Pipeline

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by Benjamin Bahney, Patrick B. Johnston, Howard J. Shatz

In March, the terrorist group known as the Islamic State struck in the heart of Europe for the second time in six months. The attack in Brussels caught European security forces flat footed; even though there were indications that attackers—who were trained in Syria—were poised to strike.

The Islamic State’s core in Iraq and Syria is now under intense pressure. It is time for the campaign against it to put increased attention on countering the group’s pipeline for international terrorism—the fighters who might return to threaten their home countries. The group has generated a heightened terrorist threat to the West and to all the countries from which its members come due to its ability to vet and train the 30,000 or so foreign fighters who have traveled to Iraq and Syria, and to redeploy them to their home countries. The current threat might at least equal what al Qaida could muster at its peak.

Competing proposals from U.S. politicians to commit thousands of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria, or to vigorously police and patrol Muslim communities in the Westsimply do not address the Islamic State’s ability to infiltrate the group’s trained foreign fighters back into their home countries. Targeting training camps in Islamic State territory, as well as monitoring and detecting the group’s returnees from Syria, are increasingly needed to address this threat.

In an effort to inform Western policy and actions against the Islamic State, our research team recently released a multi-year study of one of the most comprehensive sets of the group’s internal documents ever put together—including memos, spreadsheets, and correspondence. Our analysis illuminated long-practiced Islamic State effort to administer its resources and territory. Its territorial control gives the group the flexibility to perpetuate terrorism both in the Middle East and worldwide while weathering the heavy battlefield losses it is now suffering in Iraq and Syria.



ICYMI: How would Sun Tzu take down the ? 

Photo published for Defeating the Islamic State: Advice from Sun Tzu | RealClearWorld

Defeating the Islamic State: Advice from Sun Tzu | RealClearWorld

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