Salem Alketbi

Daesh: Terrorism hiding in plain sight

السبت - 26 فبراير 2022

Sat - 26 Feb 2022

The terrorist organization Daesh has not completely disappeared, so its return can certainly be discussed. True, the group was defeated militarily in 2019 and its so-called state was dismantled, and since then official pronouncements have repeatedly spoken of individual and collective efforts to eliminate the group’s flock in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

No one disputes that despite its military defeat at the hands of the international coalition, the group remains capable of using its sleeper cells and conducting sporadic terrorist operations. Especially in the areas from which it was driven out.

In other words, the group has returned to a strategy of underground operations after nearly five years of taking complete control of large areas in Iraq and Syria, covering 88,000 square kilometers and home to more than 8 million people. Daesh remains a worrisome problem on people’s minds.

Its name is associated with the numerous atrocities it has committed and their dissemination on the Internet. This brutal organization has committed numerous crimes against humanity: Beheadings, mass executions, brutal murders, rapes of women, kidnappings, ethnic cleansing, recruitment of children and abuse of women.

Therefore, the resumption of their terrorist activities, albeit on a limited scale, deserves attention and interest. The brutality of this terrorist organization makes it necessary to eradicate any new threat.

The group’s recent attack on Ghwayran prison in the northeastern province of Hasakah to liberate terrorist elements from Daesh is the most serious indication of the group’s ability to carry out new attacks. Several reports confirm that Al Qaeda fighters engaged in several days of skirmishes with the SDF.

Shortly before, Daesh fighters and sleeper cells in Iraq carried out a terrorist attack on an Iraqi military base in Diyala province. Eleven Iraqi Army soldiers were killed.

This attack reflects the frequency of attacks carried out by Daesh elements in Iraq in terms of targets, types, and execution plans. The attack by the Daesh terrorist group in Hasakah undoubtedly threw a spotlight once again on the prisons where thousands of terrorists have been detained since the group’s defeat in 2019.

According to reports, about 12,000 prisoners are held by the SDF, and tens of thousands of the prisoners are wives and children of the terrorists. This is one of the most striking issues due to the different international views and positions on the repatriation of foreign terrorists detained in Syria to their home countries.

The seriousness of this issue lies in the fact that it is a time bomb that carries the seeds of the spread of terrorism if it is not eliminated once and for all.

Despite the increasing threat to the states in our region, especially from terrorist organizations and militias, we must not focus on one threat and not the other. Terrorism is no less dangerous than sectarian militias, proxy guerrillas and others.

Recent experience teaches us that terrorism goes through phases of constant change. There are always extremist elements ready to pick up where others have left off. This risk is increased by the fact that terrorist organizations such as Daesh and Al Qaeda have penetrated the virtual world and spread their extremist ideology through the Internet.

It is difficult to deny the lesson that everyone has learned from the historical development of the terrorism phenomenon.

Most dangerous in this context is the idea of lone wolves or so-called leaderless jihad, which was intellectually established by Al Qaeda theorist Abu Musab Al Suri and later merged with Daesh ideas to recruit elements by dispensing with the requirement of religiosity and using various psychological and humanitarian factors to attract new terrorist elements who believe in the organization’s goals and not necessarily in its idea.

Daesh and other terrorist organizations continue to pose one of the greatest threats to security and peace, mainly due to the proliferation of terrorist elements and offshoots in several regions and countries on the African continent, particularly in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.

French forces (Operation Barkhane) have tracked down terrorist cells in the Sahel and Sahara in recent years. The factors favoring the phenomenon of terrorism remain strong in our environment: a security vacuum in several countries and the absence of a central state, as well as the spread of conflicts, wars and sectarian divisions.

In addition, there is the deterioration of economic conditions in several countries. All of these elements contribute, to varying degrees, to creating an environment conducive to the resurgence of extremism and terrorism.

The collapse of the central state in many Middle Eastern and African countries since 2011 and before has brought numerous disasters to regional and international security and stability. The resulting chaos has long been an incentive for regional powers to expand their strategic influence through transnational projects using proxies and arms.

The security vacuum has also allowed terrorist organizations to spread across multiple countries. To emerge from all this, the international community must first support efforts to restore the power and position of the state in countries in crisis, whether in the Arab region or on the African continent.