The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

ISIS Sets its Sights on Europe after Iraq, Syria Losses

The entire world is preparing for the battle of liberating Syria’s Raqqa from the clutches of ISIS, only days after the terrorist group was defeated in Iraq’s Mosul. Does this mean that ISIS will be destroyed permanently?

A Russian orientalist researcher said that the liberation of Mosul is a major victory, but the terrorist group retained some fighters in the city, who fled to Raqqa. Once this city is liberated, they have nowhere else to go but Europe.

Europeans fear that their continent will be an imminent ISIS target, especially after the group’s disappointment in the Middle East and North Africa, most notably in Libya.

In mid-June, Europol released a report that warned of a change in ISIS strategy in its attacks against European countries. It stressed that the group has started to rely on the recruitment of girls and younger members to carry out terrorist attacks.

It is currently targeting youths younger than 25 years old and it has shifted its attention, now more than ever, towards girls. Given this information, Europol warned that the worst is yet to come, adding that ISIS may go so far as to carry out nuclear, chemical and biologic attacks.

The report based its findings on surveillance of ISIS and its battles in Iraq and Syria where they managed to attach explosives to drones.

The European agency’s nuclear concern stem from the terrorists’ theft of some 40 kilograms of low enriched uranium from scientific institutes at the University of Mosul. The report noted that low enriched uranium does not pose a major threat, but it is enough to cause panic among the people. This does not in anyway lessen the severity of the situation.

Europol’s concerns were confirmed when ISIS released a video of children, whom it described as stronger than men of state, who have been trained to fight for the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. It said that these new recruits were the “new heroes” of the organization. What is most alarming is that these children are from different nationalities, such as Turkish, Iraqi, British and Russia.

Can the threats ISIS made in the recording be translated into actions, or are they simply part of a media and psychological war it is waging against Europe and major powers?

We can assert that Europe has become the destination for ISIS members fleeing the Middle East, where it is being defeated day after day. Their infiltration to Europe is confirmed by Italian intelligence reports, as stated by The Guardian in May, that voiced fears that ISIS members may be hidden among wounded Libyans.

The Guardian explained that Italian intelligence uncovered a complex network of ISIS members and other terrorists that has been operating since 2015. Terrorists were able to infiltrate Europe after pretending to be wounded Libyan soldiers who were sent abroad, by state-run hospitals, to receive treatment. The terrorists would then head to Turkey, travel to Romania, then Serbia and Bosnia, before heading to the final destination of their terror attacks.

Entering the heart of western European countries cannot have been achieved without proper funding and communication. So who helped them in their mission?

In early June, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department on New Challenges and Threats Dmitry Feoktistov announced that Moscow has information that ISIS was attempting to invest in projects in Europe through some Middle Eastern banks.

Russian officials informed Washington of the specific names of these banks that are investing in two European countries. They revealed that ISIS was trying to make up for its losses by turning to the precious metal trade. The group has seized phosphate mines in Iraq and several cement factories in Syria.

In addition, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that it has information that indicates that ISIS was attempting to invest in the real estate market in Turkey and the US city of New York.

Moreover, European police have also expressed their fears that ISIS and its partners have gone so far as to establish an “ISIS Facebook”, which would represent a new dangerous nightmare.

The security agencies are truly investigating the possibility that the group and its partners, including al-Qaida, may indeed be in the process of setting up their own social networking site.

The purpose of this network is to promote terrorist activities and garner funding away from security inspections.

A spokesman for European police told Agence France Presse: “We are still trying to identify all the details of this account, including who set it up and why.”

Initial findings, revealed that it connects ISIS with other terror organizations.

Is the group therefore making arrangements for a plan that will be achieved by 2020?

The terrorists had in the months that it had bolstered its presence in Iraq and Syria, issued a statement saying that its leaders were planning on invading Europe before 2020. This invasion will be a form of vengeance for wrongs the Europeans have committed against the Arab world with the Sykes – Picot agreement. The terrorists consider that this agreement was an attempt by the “unbelieving West to divide the Muslims and prevent the establishment of a new Islamic caliphate.”

At any rate, ISIS heading towards Europe is reminiscent of combatants who returned from Afghanistan in the early 1990s after they fought the Soviets. These terrorists withdrew from the country and have spread corruption and terror throughout the Arab world for several years before they were finally dealt with on the security and ideological levels.

An Arab security official remarked: “If those returning from Afghanistan graduated from the school of violence, returning ISIS members have studied and trained in the academies of violence and terror, which makes dealing with them a catastrophic issue.”

This is demonstrated in the great difficulty European security and intelligence agencies are facing in monitoring the fighters, who are returning from conflicts in the Middle East. The terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe in recent years attest to these challenges.

A Canadian-French intelligence report recently highlighted ISIS’ campaign against Europe, asking what the terrorists seek to achieve there.

According to the report, ISIS has two goals:

– It wants to prove that coexisting with “traitors” is impossible. It therefore targeted Germany and France, the primary hosts of the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe. These two countries also have the most lenient migrant policies.

– It wants to encourage the “jihadist rise” in Europe because European recruits have exceptional value for the terrorist group.

ISIS’ main goal in Europe is not military, but political and symbolic. This is why lone wolf attacks serve its agenda and make the group a constant threat. The escalation that it is exercising perfectly reveals its dynamism and highlights its remote control of sleeper cells.

Source: ISIS Sets its Sights on Europe after Iraq, Syria Losses – ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English