ISIS: “We Are on Our Way to Rome”

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Friday, July 31st, 2015 @ 12:31AM

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Left: “Thanks to Allah who ordered the jihad … We are on our way to Rome,” ISIS spokesman (archive.org file-sharing website, July 23, 2015).

While officials of the countries fighting ISIS meet in different cities around the world to try to figure out how best to fight it and its growing appeal, especially to young Muslims, little has been done to lessen the lure of the Islamic State to Muslims living in the West.

This could be partially attributed to both recruitment and operational tactics used by ISIS, tactics that are unfamiliar to Western law-enforcement. Refusal to name the Islamist jihadist ideology as the motive to join ISIS also contributes to the difficulties in understanding its modus operandi.

Perhaps because “More British Muslims have gone to fight in Syria than are enlisted in the [UK] armed forces,” Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has laid out a plan to fight  Islamic radicalism at home and abroad. Though, as reported by the Telegraph, “teachers supposedly banned from the classroom have been allowed back to work at the school at the centre of the ‘Trojan Horse plot’ to promote Islamism. It is estimated that at least fifty British citizens have been killed fighting in Syria and Iraq.” (The Sunday Mirror, July 26, 2015)

In addition to using the Internet and social media outlets to advance its recruitment efforts, ISIS has been using Libya, only 147 miles from the closest European coast (the Italian island of Lampedusa), to send its operatives, posing as immigrants fleeing from the war, to Europe. The liberal European countries, already overwhelmed with illegal migrants from the Africa and Asia, seem unable to cope with the growing waves of refugees from war zones in Middle East, not to mention checking on possible affiliations with ISIS or its ilk.

ISIS operations cost a lot of money. According to U.S. Treasury officials, “ISIS raked in more than a billion dollars in cash when its forces took over the city of Mosul and northern Iraq in June 2014 and took over the reserves of more than ninety banks.”

In addition to the cash that it seized, ISIS has revenues from smuggling oil, mainly to Turkey, worth around $40 million a month. ISIS’s cash flow enables it to pay monthly salaries to its operatives in the sum of approximately $1,000 per person (christiantoday.com, July 27, 2015). Ransoms from kidnapping and the sale of of ill-gotten antiquities and historical artifacts to greedy Western collectors raises enough money to “enable the ongoing management of the civil infrastructure and daily life of the residents in areas controlled by ISIS”.

To curb their revenues, Senator Chuck Grassley (R -IA), together with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and David Perdue of (R-GA), introduced a bill to prevent ISIS’s ability to profit from the sale of looted antiquities, which, according to Grassley, is “their second-largest source of profit behind oil.”

But in the meantime, despite the growing bombing campaign on ISIS, its fighting power has not been diminished.

The weekly Global Jihad report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted that “this week there has been a possible fundamental change in Turkey’s policy. The change was manifested in Turkish airstrikes against ISIS targets in northern Syria and widespread detentions of ISIS operatives in Turkey. Concurrently, Turkish warplanes attacked bases of the PKK (the Kurdish resistance) in northern Iraq and detained PKK operatives. The background of the change is the leakage of ISIS terrorism into Turkey and Turkey’s growing fears of the Kurds’ separatist aspirations. In addition, Turkey has announced an increase in the security measures along its border with Syria. It has also allowed the American-led coalition to use the airports in its territory to carry out airstrikes against ISIS.”

Egypt has also intensified its attacks on ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. Yet, ISIS attacks against Egyptian forces and targets inside Egypt continue.

Again, citing the weekly Global Jihad report:

“According to a senior IDF officer in the Southern Command, the latest combined attack carried out by ISIS’s Sinai province was planned by professionals. The attack was directed against 15 positions and checkpoints of Egyptian security forces simultaneously and displayed a high level of coordination, command and control. The guiding hand behind the attacking force of over 100 operatives was clearly evident. The operatives of ISIS’s Sinai province are displaying ever-improving combat capability. In recent months, it has become evident that they are becoming more professional in the use of IEDs and booby-trapped vehicles, using techniques that are known from other battle zones in the Middle East. ISIS is also displaying its ability to organize itself quickly and enjoys a steady supply of weapons. For example, during the attack, the operatives made use of weapons such as anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles.” (article by Amos Harel, Haaretz Daily, July 27, 2015)

For a full report on recent ISIS global activities, see Spotlight on Global Jihad (July 23-29, 2015).

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Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, Al Qaeda, Egypt, England, Erdogan, Europe, IDF, Internet recruitment, Iraq, ISIS, ISIS/IS, Islamist, Italy, Jihad, Kurdistan, Latest News, Libya, Mideast, Muslim Refugees, Oil, Sinai, Syria, Terrorist Financing, Turkey, U.S.