CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 17, 2016 — In a sane world, last week’s story that the Islamic State is preparing its followers for a collapse of their caliphate would appear to be a good thing. But this is not a sane world.
The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry have been boasting about the pending demise of the ISIS stronghold, but the Obama Administration’s track record for honesty and accuracy is uninspiring. And even if they have this right, the news isn’t all good.
A senior security official in France noted that “they (ISIS) will now expand to other tactics and start executing much more insidious and covert ops, in big cities.”
Just hours after he said that, nearly a hundred people were killed in Nice during a Bastille Day terrorist attack. It was the third such major attack in France in less than a year.
So while their grandiose plan of gradually conquering the world by establishing another caliphate is failing, ISIS has upped the prospects of increased terrorism in virtually any corner of the world.
ISIS attempts to create a global caliphate would never have worked; there were simply too many barriers to overcome. But ISIS won’t simply go away. Not after 1,400 years of Islamic history that dictates their goals using the Koran as its playbook.
As the oft quoted Surah 9:5 of the Islamic Holy Book states, “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.”
Those words are clear. We have just completed one of the bloodiest Ramadan months in history, and since it ended, we have witnessed violence and death on a tragic scale.
The collapse of the Islamic State caliphate might appear to be a positive development, but it isn’t an end. The outlines of what will follow are appearing, and it is frightening. What happened in Nice will become more commonplace.
Though ISIS wanted a caliphate with a central location for command and control, the jihadist group has already proven it can function quite well through its diffuse, but effective global internet network.
The media likes to use the term “lone wolves,” but the terror process is more complex than that. To ascribe an act like the one in Nice to a sole individual or small cell of ideologues misrepresents the situation.
By decentralizing, ISIS becomes even more dangerous thanks to the seemingly random nature of its operations.
France was on high alert throughout the European soccer championships. Precautions were taken and nothing happened—not until the closing hours of Bastille Day when everyone took a collective sigh of relief that they had “dodged the bullet.” They relaxed, they celebrated their holiday, and then ISIS struck.
“Unpredictability” is the key tenet of the ISIS playbook. Their plans are ever evolving and opportunistic, and so far always been a few steps ahead of Western intelligence and security forces.
Part of that is due to the woeful foreign policy efforts of Western leaders, like President Obama. Obama continues to insist that “ISIS is not Islam” and refuses to identify the problem, while terrorists have killed thousands of innocent people.
Denial is neither a strategy nor an answer. Excuses and tired rhetoric will not stop the next attack, or the next, or the next. “The United States strongly condemns these actions” is a hollow response, trite to the point of meaninglessness.
As France reels from multiple terrorist events, no number of solidarity walks, candlelight vigils, floral memorials and verses of “Amazing Grace” will stop the Islamist attacks.
As the French grow ever more cautious and more aware of the potential for another strike, look to other places that may appear less vulnerable.
Imagine the human and artistic destruction that could be wreaked in the confines of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel or the Uffizi. Consider the symbolism and devastation such an incident would produce for a group that has no concerns for anything but its own warped ideology.
Some day ISIS will be destroyed, but that is unlikely to be the result of any grand strategy by Western efforts or tactics by President Obama.
In the meantime, prepare yourself for more attacks in more places on an accelerated timeline.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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