ISIS has intensified its attacks against security forces and state facilities in Iraq, Syria and Egypt during the past month, taking advantage of a number of circumstances, and ISIS sleeper cells have become more active in Iraq and Syria, where its material caliphate was defeated after the liberation of the town of al-Baghouz in the Syrian countryside of Deir-ez-Zor in March ,2019.
ISIS intensifies the number of its attacks in Iraq and Syria
Among the conditions exploited by ISIS in Iraq are the withdrawal of American forces from several bases, along with the political division in the country as a result of the American-Iranian conflict, and the outbreak of the coronavirus that led to the re-deployment of Iraqi forces to impose a curfew nationwide, to limit the spread of the virus, which weakened the ability of the security forces to repel these deadly attacks
US intelligence reports estimate that about 2,500 to 3,000 ISIS mercenaries are still working in Iraq, and intelligence officials in Baghdad say another 500 mercenaries have recently infiltrated across the Syrian border.
Although the Iraqi government announced the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, the remnants of ISIS returned to previous offensive tactics, setting up security forces ambushes, kidnappings and executions, as well as blackmailing vulnerable rural people to collect money from them.
In recent days, ISIS activities in Iraq have increased significantly, as ISIS launched attacks against Iraqi security forces in Salah al-Din Governorate, killing 10 of them, and this was the largest ISIS attack in Iraq since its regional defeat.
Although the Iraqi security forces intensified their operations against the remnants of ISIS in remote areas of the country, the PMF announced that ISIS mercenaries had launched new attacks on several sites in the governorates of Salah al-Din, Kirkuk, and the town of Jarf, southwest of Baghdad.
In Syria, where there is an ISIS presence in the desert of Palmyra and Deir -ez-Zor in the areas under the control of the Syrian government forces, ISIS launched attacks against the regime forces in a planned manner, and had it not been for the intervention of Russian air forces, mercenaries would have been able to control one of the towns in the region, and ISIS sleeper cells had also been active in the areas in north and east of Syria and this coincided with several riots and chaos in detention centers where ISIS mercenaries are being held
Last week, government officials and researchers warned of an increased threat from terrorist and criminal groups around the world, with countries are preoccupied with tackling of Covid-19.
The reasons for the increase in ISIS activity recently
In this context, the director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), Anne Catherine Speckhard, told Hawar news agency (ANHA) that " When the US forces drew back in Syria this past Fall in 2019, ISIS became more active with attacks and there was much more talk in ISIS supporters' groups about breaking the ISIS prisoners out from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prisons.
And during her speech about the chaos and riots being carried out by ISIS mercenaries in detention centers in northern and eastern Syria, Anne Catherine Speckhard, said, "When ISIS was first formed in Iraq under the name We must remember that when ISIS first formed in Iraq rising out of Islamic State in Iraq—many jihadist prisoners were broken out of prisons which increased the ranks of the group allowing it to become much more lethal, so they remember and wish to do the same now.
Turkish occupation attacks led to an increase in ISIS attacks
Anne Catherine Speckhard has confirmed that the Turkish attack on the northern and eastern regions of Syria led to "Destabilization and the window for ISIS to attack more was also fueled by the Turks attacking the SDF in northeast Syria and making it difficult for the SDF to peacefully hold ISIS prisoners as they were having to divert time and resources to fighting Turkish backed rebels.
And added" Ain Issa camp was shelled by Turkish backed forces and many escapes occurred. Dêrik prison was also bombed by Turkey and therefore closed as SDF did not want to risk prison escapes in a populated area. The prison in Qamishlo was also hit.
Anne Catherine Speckhard explained that all the areas where the SDF is existed " Up to this point when the US forces had been present throughout SDF territory relative calm was in place with ISIS attacks occurring on a regular basis, but far fewer than now. So we know that the US troops withdrawal and Turkish incursion weakened our ally in the fight against ISIS’s ability to rein in ISIS and really destabilized things. Turkeys aggression in the region also makes it very difficult for the SDF to operate efficiently as before.
Recently there have been ISIS riots in the SDF prisons, probably also exacerbated by the COVID crisis, overcrowding due to having to shut some of the prisons and by the prisoners fears about their futures,
the American's partners in the fight against ISIS have been left unsupported. They badly need to build better, safer prisons and they need funding for staffing them with well-paid persons who won’t give into bribes etc. They also now need protective gear against COVID-19 which will likely spread in the overcrowded prisons.
In Iraq it also looks like ISIS is growing in ranks and power but it still remains to be seen if US troop drawdowns will allow them to grow even stronger.
ISIS moves must take into consideration
And ended her speech saying "We should not fail to keep our attention on ISIS and violent extremist groups who suddenly see the US weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic and may become emboldened to try to carry out new attacks outside of the territories of Syria and Iraq, as well as inside. We have many challenges facing us but failing to stay on top of ISIS proved a great mistake last time around as it allowed them to suddenly rise up as a territorial power and claim a Caliphate. We cannot allow a repeat of that.
Increasing terrorist operations in Egypt
In Egypt, the first four months of this year witnessed a noticeable increase in terrorist operations in Egypt, as well as intense activity of the Egyptian army operations against them in North Sinai.
On February 9, mercenaries launched attacks on a security base in North Sinai. During the direct clash, a mercenary vehicle was destroyed and 10 of them were killed, while two Egyptian army officers and 5 members of the army were lost and wounded.
On April 15, Al-Amiriya district, east of Cairo, witnessed a violent exchange of fire that lasted for 4 hours continuously between the Egyptian security forces and a terrorist cell, and the Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced that “7 terrorists were killed in the clashes, the death of Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Fawzi al-Hofy, and the injury of 3 security forces ".
On April 30, an IED exploded in armored vehicle south of the city of Bir al-Abd, resulting in the loss and injury of 8 Egyptian army forces, including an officer and a non-commissioned officer, when ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
In May this year, the General Command of the Egyptian Armed Forces announced that 22 raids and 16 specific operations had resulted in the death of 126 hardline individuals in North and Central Sinai.
The Air Force targeted and destroyed 228 hideouts and shelters used by mercenaries, in addition to destroying 116 four-wheel drive vehicles.
The Egyptian army forces also discovered and detonated 630 explosive devices on the movement paths in the areas of operations. Also, 8 tunnels were discovered and destroyed, 56 cars and 226 motorcycles without plates were seized and destroyed.
In addition, 266 mercenaries, criminal wanted persons and suspects were arrested.
In this context, Mounir Adib, our Egyptian researcher who specializes in the affairs of Islamic movements, extremist organizations and international terrorism, believes that the reasons for the increase in terrorist attacks in the recent period are due to two main reasons.
"The first reason is remarkably the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as it is a major and fundamental reason for increasing the frequency of armed operations in a number of Arab countries, including Egypt and Iraq, because the coronavirus has caused a kind of political, economic and social imbalance in many countries, and this has caused activity in a work The terrorist organizations that took advantage of the chaos that accompanied the spread of the virus to rearrange themselves, and began to launch intense terrorist operations, especially as the climate allows them to do so.
Adeeb explained that "terrorist and armed organizations operate in an environment of chaos, to cause more chaos, and they always seek to create chaos, and therefore they must take advantage of the chaos that occurred naturally due to the spread of the corona pandemic without the terrorist organizations seeking to create them, and invest them in implementing a lot of Terrorist operations inside a number of Arab countries, "expecting terrorist groups to hit European countries during the coming period.
Adeeb continued: "If the year 2020 is the year of isolation in which all countries are isolated from each other, then 2021 will be a year of chaos for extremist groups if the international community does not really move to confront them."
Adeeb pointed out that the second reason for the increase in attacks is that "the blessed month of Ramadan gives spiritual strength to extremist groups to carry out many terrorist operations, especially since the holy month includes many occasions such as the Battle of Badr in which Muslims triumphed over the infidels, and since these extremist organizations see that Its opponents are infidels and tyrants, they take advantage of this spiritual atmosphere to create the situation in which the first Muslims won, and thus the month of Ramadan always occurs in such repeated terrorist operations.
"Turkey embraces the political Islam project and supports terrorist organizations"
The Egyptian researcher emphasized that "terrorist organizations will continue to exploit the chaos of corona's pandemic and continue to carry out terrorist operations even after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, similar to the operations of al-Amiriya and Bir al-Abd," noting that Turkey embraces the project of political Islam in the region, and supports these organizations significantly, because it sees religious and spiritual occasions are the core that drives these organizations. Therefore, Fayaz al-Sarraj and the militias loyal to him in Libya sought to carry out many armed operations under pressure from Turkey to take advantage of the difficult conditions the international community is going through.
Adeeb warned that the international community would wake up to a very difficult situation, more difficult than what happened on June 29, 2014 when ISIS announced the building of its state, and we were surprised at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 of a similar catastrophe according to his vision, demanding that there should be a real and general confrontation comprehensive and in agreement with a number of countries in the world and not individually, to prevent these organizations from rearranging their ranks.