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US: ISIS Expanding Globally amid Setbacks

US: ISIS Expanding Globally amid Setbacks

Friday, 18 September, 2020 - 04:30
FILE PHOTO: ISIS members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Ezzor province, Syria February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo

ISIS continues to expand globally with some 20 affiliates, despite being forced out of Syria and the killing of its leaders, a top US counter-terror official said Thursday.

The extremist group "has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to rebound from severe losses over the past six years by relying on a dedicated cadre of veteran mid-level commanders, extensive clandestine networks, and downturns in CT (counter-terrorism) pressure to persevere," said Christopher Miller, director of the US National Counterterrorism Center.

Inside Syria and Iraq, Miller said, ISIS has undertaken "a steady rate" of assassinations and mortar and IED bomb attacks.

Those included an operation in May that killed and wounded dozens of Iraqi soldiers.

Miller said the group trumpeted this success with graphic videos that served as propaganda to demonstrate the militants were still organized and active.

He said that the group is now focused on freeing thousands of ISIS members and their families from detention camps in northeastern Syria, in the absence of any coordinated international process to deal with them.

Outside Syria and Iraq, the ISIS global web "now encompasses approximately 20 branches and networks," Miller said.

It has had mixed results, but is strongest in Africa, as the Niger attack underscored.

The terrorist group also seeks to attack Western targets, Miller says, but so far effective counter-terror work has prevented this.

ISIS rival Al Qaeda was weakened by the loss of leaders and key figures, but remains potent, Miller said.

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