Winning: The Reckoning

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May 8, 2016: Islamic terrorists, especially the ones that know how to manipulate mass media, are not doing nearly as well as their as their publicists would have you think. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), the current leader when it comes to grabbing media attention, is on the retreat everywhere. In Afghanistan they are under attack by everyone. This includes the Afghan security forces, tribal militias and most other Islamic terrorist groups. As a result today ISIL is absent from about 80 percent of the areas it was active in during late 2015. In Iraq ISIL has lost over a third of the territory it held a year ago and is losing more territory every month. Similar situation in Syria, where ISIL is not only fighting with other rebels but also most other Islamic terrorist groups. Its capital, Raqqa, is being threatened by nearby Kurdish forces and hit daily by air strikes. An American campaign to hunt down and kill the senior ISIL leaders has been a success with at least a half dozen veteran officials killed so far this year. Desertions and combat losses are up and new recruits are much fewer than in 2015. The current ceasefire in Syria excludes ISIL (and their al Qaeda ally al Nusra) and the government forces, assisted by Iranian and Russian troops and weapons, are concentrating on ISIL with an offensive ISIL has not been able to stop. In Libya ISIL was having some success, but as happened elsewhere, everyone united to face ISIL and that has had the usual effect. That is having the usual effect.

In the rest of Africa ISIL is barely visible but al Qaeda is very much present. But the al Qaeda factions spend more time and effort on raising cash through smuggling (drugs and illegal migrants) than anything else. In Nigeria Boko Haram (technically an ISIL affiliate) peaked in 2015 and is now struggling to, literally, staying alive. Boko Haram is on the run and hundreds surrender each month mainly because they are starving in areas where their savage brand of ISIL has driven away most of the people. It’s similar situation in Somalia, where al Shabaab has al Qaeda and ISIL branches and neither are doing very well although the ISIL factions is more in danger of disappearing. .

In Yemen al Qaeda is the major player and used the current civil war there to gain control of the southeastern portion of the country. This includes a major port but it also makes the Islamic terrorists an easier target for the government and Arab coalition forces in the country once the Shia rebels agree on surrender terms. The Shia don’t like al Qaeda either, one of the few things the rebels and the government agree on. In late April al Qaeda lost their port and much of the surrounding territory to a government offensive.

The Islamic terrorist groups publicize their atrocities but say little about personnel matters. Local and Western intelligence agencies have a good idea of current strength and losses within Islamic terrorist groups but publish little of this lest it alert the Islamic terrorists to how that information is being obtained. What is known is that numbers of new recruits are down and the number of those killed or who deserted are up.

 


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