An alarming number of people are willing to risk or give their lives for ISIS.
The Islamic State averaged 93 suicide bombings per month in Syria and Iraq in 2016 and is currently averaging about 88 per month so far this year. That’s more than al-Qaeda launched throughout the entire year of 2001 (including 9/11).
This information comes from think-tank expert Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who testified this Thursday before a House panel as part of a hearing entitled “The terrorist diaspora: After the fall of the caliphate.”
Joscelyn’s testimony follows the announcement that US-led forces have finally managed to drive ISIS out of Mosul after nine long months of fighting.
“The number of suicide bombings claimed by the so-called caliphate dwarfs all other jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda,” writes Joscelyn, adding that “it is impossible to verify the Islamic State’s figures with any precision.”
Problems with information-gathering include:
• The “fog of war”
• Failed attacks that ISIS has claimed as legitimate
• The number of ISIS operatives who were forced into service (including children)
Even so, “it is reasonable to conclude that the number of people willing to die for the sake of the so-called caliphate is disturbingly high – much higher than the number of willing martyrs in 2001 or even much more recently,” concludes Joscelyn.
The suicide attacks have been used primarily to defend ISIS positions, including Mosul.
During a separate hearing on Thursday, Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told a House panel that our focus on ISIS has allowed al-Qaeda to flourish unchecked, particularly in Syria.
Others worry that terrorists will return to Europe and the US following the Iraqi defeat of ISIS in Mosul. These individuals will either be “disillusioned,” “disengaged but not disillusioned,” or “operational,” says Colin Clarke of the RAND Corporation.
All three types are dangerous because they have the capacity to radicalize youth and/or carry out attacks.