AntiWar.com & NBC News – 2016-08-04 19:45:56
Two-Year US Campaign More Than Doubles ISISâ€™ Reach
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 3, 2016) — While ISIS remains the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it’s got an increasingly global reach, with affiliates in an ever-increasing number of countries, and cells across Western Europe launching attacks at a growing rate. A new White House briefing laid out the grim facts.
At the time the US launched the war against ISIS in 2014, the group had a presence in seven nations worldwide. Suddenly being at war with the United States and a huge coalition gave the group a major boost in international credibility, and got them on the radar in more countries.
By 2015, the State Department estimated that ISIS had a presence in 13 countries, and the latest briefing showed 18 “fully operational” ISIS countries in the world, meaning it’s well more than doubled since the US war began. The briefing also added six more countries where ISIS is “taking root.”
While the US continues to present ISIS in Iraq and Syria as being on the ropes in the face of growing offensives, the group’s presence in both countries remains substantial, and with ISIS franchises cropping up the world over, the US may wind up expanding into even more nations, with strikes beginning in Libya just this week, chasing an ISIS group that has benefited massively from being designated America’s enemy.
New Counterterrorism ‘Heat Map’
Shows ISIS Branches Spreading Worldwide
William Arkin, Robert Windrem and Cynthia McFadden / NBC News
(August 3, 2016) — As the US launched more airstrikes Tuesday against ISIS targets in Libya — representing an expansion of the US military operations beyond Iraq and Syria — NBC News has exclusively obtained a map showing the global expansion of the terror group.
The map is part of a classified briefing document received by the White House dated “August 2016” and prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center. It shows a stunning three-fold increase in the number of places around the globe where ISIS is operating.
US State Department documents indicated that in 2014, when the US military began its campaign to destroy the extremists, there were only seven nations in which the fledgling state was operating.
By 2015, according to the State Department’s own numbers, there were nearly double that — 13 countries.
The current briefing map shows 18 countries where ISIS is fully operational. The map also displays a new category — “aspiring branches” — and lists six countries where they’re taking root: Egypt, Indonesia, Mali, the Philippines, Somalia and Bangladesh.
NBC News terrorism analysis Malcolm Nance said the US has been successful in attacking the “ISIS core” in Iraq and Syria, but that the “heat map” obtained by NBC News “could probably be a lot bigger if they were to show all the aspirational regions where ISIS wants to operate and has carried out terrorist attacks.”
“It’s fair to say that the whole battle space is expanding for ISIS,” he added.
In an election year in which the fight against terror has taken center stage, even the US government seems to acknowledge the battlefield is growing.
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