One of the greatest threats in the past five years United States, has had to deal with is The Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The terrorist organization that I have chosen to further research is ISIS in North Africa. ISIS is one of the most hated terrorist groups that is affecting the U.S. and countries across the world. ISIS has made their mark throughout the Middle East but I have decided to focus their expansion on their expansion into North Africa. The reasoning behind ISIS expanding into North Africa is because they are being pushed out of the Middle East. ISIS is able to reside in countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara because of the ungoverned spaces filled with a vast amount of desert and mountain terrain. ISIS is highly emphasized by their mark that they have left on the United States, but it is important to also highlight their impact that they are currently making.
In 1999 The Islamic State was created by Al-Zarqawi, a violent Islamic extremist. Both the creation of ISIS and the evolution of their tactic has not only put great strain on the American people but also has resulted into the expansion of ISIS in different parts around the world. In 2015, ISIS reported to be the deadliest terrorist group, killing 6141 people. In 2016, it was reported that they increased their kill spree by 2,800 more deaths. (1). ISIS is now making headlines as they are making their expansion to the North African region because of lost territory in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is taking advantage of the desert terrain and ungoverned areas in North Africa in order to take over.
ISIS grew through its overtaking power on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. ISIS has been able to heavily recruit other Muslims and American’s through these platforms by expressing their ideology and propaganda. Twitter is the most commonly used platform as it easy for members to post tweets and reach out to others. The U.S. Government, international governments, and local authorities have found it difficult to track down accounts because they are unsure if they are real or fake. (3). ISIS does not have a specific demographic, age, ethnicities that they choose to recruit. There have been many cases of Americans converting to Islam to participate in ISIS’s movement. (4). First, ISIS members establish a relationship with an individual who has some form of isolation because they are easily persuaded and likely to share personal information. Once a relationship has been formed, they then manipulate the individual by showing graphic images and or videos of individuals in Iraq being massacred by the West. After the individual is compelled to join ISIS, ISIS members walk them through the process on how to convert to Islam buy a plane ticket, acquire a passport, and successfully arrive to the holy land. (5). Once an individual arrives to the desired location, it then becomes apparent that ISIS is not what they said who they really are. ISIS wants to keep the world on their toes, to make everyone fearful of what they could possibly do next.
Today there are a total 74 members, that are compiled of 70 nations and four international organizations, which include the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Arab League, and INTERPOL. (6). Over 90 countries engage in periodic meetings, while others who are against the violence it takes to defeat ISIS still find the need to engage in these meetings because there have been drastic attacks towards their homeland. (7). The United Nations has worked along side the Iraqi and Syria government in effort to provide aid for over two million communities that ISIS has liberated. (8). The Counter-Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group has used the efforts from Dutch and the U.S. to further improve information distribution through INTERPOL.
When ISIS is referred in the media it is entirely negative. For the past decade ISIS has been in the media about bombings, propaganda videos, and attacks that have encompassed all throughout the world. In the past week, the New York Times reported (9) that current strategies of ISIS are not working because of the efforts made by the United States, military capabilities, United Nations, and Iraqi government. ISIS has had to shift their strategies and has taken desperate measures in hopes to still keep their efforts relevant. For the most part, their recruitment tactics have stayed the same, but we have seen some slight change. ISIS fighters in North Africa tend to now be younger North Africans or leaders that have been sent by dominant leadership. (10). Due to the advancement of technology, analyzation of patterns and trends of media, major governments and local authorities have been able to quickly detect who is trying to join ISIS. In 2017, the UK Government lowered their travel warnings for Tunisia, because of security advancement. Other countries such as Morocco and Algeria, remain on high alert because of constant violence they face. (11).
In recent years, The United States and Military capabilities have been key influencers when pertaining to ISIS. In order to protect our National Security and borders, diminishing ISIS has become one of the top priorities of the U.S. Government as well as international governments. The U.S. Army Forces Command has added the African region, including North Africa as a combat deployment unit to in effort to combat ISIS. (12). The U.S. Army Special Force’s main mission entails traveling to foreign countries to train foreign allied nations but they are now changing their operations to destroy ISIS. (13). As of March 2018, President Donald Trump has commanded a total of eight Airstrikes against ISIS in Lybia, which is the highest number of operations carried out in any presidency term against a terrorist organization. (14) In 2015, a bill was introduced into the Senate; “Defeat ISIS and Protect and Secure the United States Act of 2015.” This bill emphasizes a joint effort of agencies throughout the Intelligence Community to work diligent in order to protect our nation. (15).
ISIS is very powerful and strategic in how they want to pursued and antagonize all around the world. In the past decade the United States and Foreign Governments have come a long way in diminishing ISIS. With new counterterrorism measures being implemented, ISIS is going to have to completely change their tactics or be completely defeated.
- “An Overview of ISIS.” Islamic Networks Group (ING). Accessed December 14, 2018. https://ing.org/an-overview-of-isis/.
- Armed Conflict Database, International Institute for Strategic Studies, acd.iiss.org/member/conflicts.aspx id=271&type=2&archived=False&page=2.
- CBS News. ‘How Much Does Targeting Oil Sales Hurt ISIS?’ CBS News. December 11, 2015. Accessed December 15, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-makes-40-million-monthly-oil-revenue-selling-to-syria-bashar-al-assad-government/.
- “Global Terrorism Index-2017.” Global Terrorism Index- 2017, 2017, (20).
- Myre, Greg. ‘The Military Doesn’t Advertise It, But U.S. Troops Are All Over Africa.’ NPR. April 28, 2018. Accessed December 15, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/28/605662771/the-military- doesnt-advertise-it-but-u-s-troops-are-all-over-africa.
- U.S. Congress. House. Defeat ISIS and Protect and Secure the United States Act of 2015, S.2377, Cong., 114th sess., https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2377
- Quandrud, Pamela. “The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS: A Success Story.” American Foreign Service Association, (2018).
- Schmitt, Eric. ‘Under Trump, U.S. Launched 8 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya. It Disclosed 4.’ The New York Times. March 08, 2018. Accessed December 15, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/world/africa/us-airstrikes-isis-libya.html.
- Thurston, Alex. ‘North Africa’s Jihadis.’ Wilson Center. April 11, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/north-africas-jihadis.
- Turse, Nick. ‘The US Carried Out 674 Military Operations in Africa Last Year. Did You Hear About Any of Them?’ The Nation. July 09, 2015. Accessed December 15, 2018. https://www.thenation.com/article/us-carried-out-674-military-operations- africa-last-year-did-you-hear-about-any-them/