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Terror views

Since the attack in Orlando on June 12, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed or is suspected of responsibility for ensuing terrorist attacks in Jordan on June 21, Lebanon on June 27, Istanbul on June 28, Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1, Baghdad on July 3, and Saudi Arabia on July 4. Are these attacks part of a new global strategy by ISIS or, except for the ISIS label, a coincidence?

The recent attacks reflect a combination of ongoing and not necessarily related campaigns in Syria, Iraq and adjacent countries; entrepreneurial terrorists using the space provided by ISIS as a launching pad for their own jihadist ambitions; scattering foreign fighters heading back home to carry on the fight; ISIS exhortations to local supporters to take up arms; and the appeal of ISIS ideology to angry and often troubled individuals pursuing their own trajectories. So writes Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation in the United States.

Read his blog entry at http://www.rand.org/blog/2016/07/is-the-surge-in-terrorist-attacks-coincidence-or-coordinated.html.

In a separate blog on the RAND website, political scientists Colin P. Clarke and Chad C. Serena make the point that coalition attacks have caused ISIL to lose 47 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20 percent of its erstwhile real estate in Syria. Its loss of territory has had two effects: it has tarnished the ISIL brand as the establisher and defender of a global Islamic caliphate, and has at least in part caused it to lash out. Read more at http://www.rand.org/blog/2016/07/to-defeat-isils-brand-its-territory-must-be-reclaimed.html.

And today at the London-based defence and security think tank RUSI, political journalist Gwynne Dyer will discuss his new book, Don’t Panic – ISIS, Terror and The Making of The New Middle East. There he argues that there is a Western tendency to overreact to the threat posed by Islamist terrorists. In failing to recognise the ISIS phenomenon as a revolution calculated to court foreign intervention, western countries pondering the scale of their response risk playing into the hands of the extremists, he warns.

Photo by Mark Rowe; at University of Durham.


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