WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 – Back in February of this year, the terrorist organization ISIS announced that it intended to invade Rome. The International Business Times reported that “As the Islamic State group expands its reach into Libya, the group also known as ISIS sits on the doorstep of a nation that has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe: Italy.
The militant group threatened to seize Rome in a video released this week showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt in Libya. Although the number of foreign fighters from Italy operating in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS has established its so-called caliphate, is on the lower end among Western European nations, Islamic extremism in Italy may grow as ISIS makes an effort to recruit in the country.”
True, ISIS successes have exceeded the expectations of virtually everyone, but this pronouncement had a ring of hubris to it. How in the world could they successfully attack Rome?
Events in Libya and southern Europe are beginning to show how such an event could happen.
Libya is relatively close to Italy geographically, and since terror groups have occupied much of the North African country, people are leaving Libya in a mass exodus. This mass migration has created a new growth industry in Libya: the illegal smuggling of people to southern European destinations to flee ISIS. How significant is this new business? NPR noted that “it’s a booming business. A report released yesterday by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a network of law enforcement and development groups, says the smuggling trade is worth up to $323 million a year in Libya alone.”
NPR recently reported that the EU is trying to develop a strategy to deal with this mass migration, noting that, ” The proposal calls for a mandatory quota system, under which migrants who are currently in the EU would be relocated to other member states based on what the population, GDP and jobless rate is in each of those states. Italy, which has borne the brunt of the recent influx, has more than 80,000 migrants registered in its reception centers, in addition to an unknown number of unregistered migrants. And Greece and Malta are the other two front-line states in this crisis.”
Italy has taken the brunt of this migration and the majority of the 80,000 new immigrants in that country are a direct result of the spread of ISIS in north Africa. One of the many interesting story lines is the fact that ISIS itself is one of those forces moving people from Africa to Italy. According to NPR, “much of that money is being funneled into terrorist groups, including the self-proclaimed Islamic State.” It is an interesting business model — destroy and kill property and people in mass and for those who survive — get paid by them to relocate to a safer place. It is actually pretty clever, in a sadistic sort of way.
ISIS has been like a cancer wherever it goes. Whenever it invades an area, there is always an instant dispersion in the thousands. It is interesting that ISIS predicted a future invasion of Italy following the capture of Libya. It was as though they knew how immigrants would flee. Furthermore, with the terrorist organization playing a principal role in moving these refugees, it cannot help but beg the question, is this how ISIS is setting the stage for a future invasion of Rome? Think about it, in a chaotic migration of thousands each month, what prevents ISIS making sure that many of those are part of a future army poised for such an invasion? This is pure speculation at this point, but it is also the type of projecting that simply makes sense.
Only time will tell.