ISIS And Al Qaeda May Join Forces To Spread Extremist Disease

News Image By PNW Staff May 09, 2017
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Just like the Black Plague spread from country to country on the backs of rats during the Middle Ages, the radical Islamic disease known as ISIS may level its highest death toll yet as jihadist fighters are driven from the battlefields.

As U.S.-led coalition forces and the Russian-backed Syrian military regain the massive swaths of land ISIS claimed as its "caliphate," the terror group has opened negotiations with al Qaeda to join forces. 

The unholy union would open the door for thousands of battlefield hardened jihadists to utilize underground networks and hidden terror cells.

Although the two terror groups have differing ideologies about the role of Islamic extremism, Western security leaders are well aware that ISIS sprang out of al Qaeda. 

ISIS placed a high value on holding territorial lands and have enjoyed far greater comfort with inflicting civilian casualties, even Muslims. 

With roots running back to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda's tactics have been to garner financial resources and act out surgical terror strikes such as the 9/11 attacks. 

But with the fall of ISIS-held cities imminent, the groups see a path to an unprecedented global jihad as thousands of insurgents relocate or return to Europe, Africa and North America.

Spreading Mayhem

One of the primary concerns pointed out by experts such as Army Lt. Gen. Michael K. Nagata is that the pool of terror recruits has grown enormously and they will spread the jihad.

"A lot of what comes out of ISIS is just 'Go where you can and kill who you can," Gen. Nagata said. "Even as they acted to save their skin by fleeing Iraq and Syria, there's still a latent desire to wreak havoc. And, they'll find an outlet for that."

The potential merger with al Qaeda would provide resources and support in countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nairobi, Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, Nigeria, Indonesia, Philippines as well as cells in Europe and North America. 

To refer back to the plague metaphor, these rats are getting on ships and joining forces with vermin in ports around the globe. Other factions may also see an uptick in their ranks as the land war comes to an end.

"Various jihadist insurgency groups and terrorists will be able to benefits from the defeat of Daesh as they can recruit to the cause through the politicization of religion," explains Richard Burchill, director of research and engagement at Trends Research and Advisory. 

"Unfortunately, due to the ideas of political Islam being pursued, there is a wide audience for extremism and many groups looking to exploit individuals."

Terror on the Homefront

As military forces dispel ISIS from its strongholds, expectations are that insurgents will return home to as many as 120 countries. 

Many nations have active terror cells and in others these extremists will begin recruitment to their cause. Gen. Nagata pointed out that the foreign fighters that flocked to defend the caliphate rank among "the most ethnically diverse, socially diverse, non-monolithic problem we have seen." 

Some research indicates that 5,000 insurgents were from Western Europe and 300 from North America.

"The expectation is that many of these 'holy warriors' will survive, departing for their home countries to wreak murderous havoc," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John. F. Kelly stated. Victory on the battlefield is likely to create worldwide terror hot spots and attacks.

But the question of what a joint venture between al Qaeda and ISIS means remains relatively unanswered. ISIS has demonstrated advocacy for lone wolf actions using commonly available tools. 

Truck attacks and knife rampages have become as defining as orchestrated firearm and explosive slaughters. Al Qaeda had earned a reputation for well-financed and highly coordinated efforts under bin Laden and others. 

Regardless of the approach the groups negotiate, the rats are fleeing the battlefield and outbreaks of their ideological disease are expected on many homefronts.

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