Political Editors / August 26, 2019

ISIS Is Not Dead

In fact, the Islamic State is growing in Afghanistan as well as Syria and Iraq.

A suicide bomber blew up a wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 63 people last weekend. The Islamic State claimed credit soon after the attack. “The militant group lost its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria earlier this year,” The Washington Post reports. “But the bombing showed that the Islamic State remains a potent force beyond the borders it once claimed and fixed a glare on one of its lesser known but growing affiliates: the Islamic State in Khorasan, as the Afghanistan branch is known.” Exactly as we warned in March.

But Afghanistan is not the only place where ISIS is once again seeking to regain regional power. Syria and Iraq remain in the crosshairs. As The New York Times notes, “The Islamic State can still tap a large war chest of as much as $400 million, which has been hidden in either Iraq and Syria or smuggled into neighboring countries for safekeeping. It is also believed to have invested in businesses, including fish farming, car dealing and cannabis growing. And ISIS uses extortion to finance clandestine operations: Farmers in northern Iraq who refuse to pay have had their crops burned to the ground.”

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump declared that ISIS had been defeated and its caliphate destroyed, and it was. However, ISIS’s defeat geographically does not mean that all the members of the terrorist movement are dead. Clearly, like any criminal organization, if the good guys aren’t there to vigilantly police and address any criminal actions, then those groups will inevitably grow. Barack Obama infamously shrugged off ISIS as the “JV team” only to have it practically take control of half of Iraq, spreading its terroristic rule over 12 million people. Trump would be wise to act carefully in drawing down U.S. troops so as to prevent a repeat of Obama’s folly.

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