By Saagar Enjeti
ISIS’s weekly newsletter Al Naba carried an editorial earlier this month acknowledging it may lose its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but touted its “provinces” in countries like Libya, Afghanistan, and Egypt as proof the group would live on.
One ISIS operative inside Syria told The Washington Post the terrorist group has “people reaching out and telling us they want to come to the caliphate,” but elaborated that “we tell them to stay in their countries and rather wait to do something there.”
The statement acknowledges Western speculation that as ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria it will continue to mount attacks throughout the west and the globe. ISIS murdered more than 350 people in four countries in separate terrorist attacks during the week of June 27.
The group also claimed in its editorial the establishment of the caliphate changed the “whole world,” and that if the U.S. and its allies want to achieve “true victory” they “will have to wait a long time: until an entire generation of Muslims that was witness to the establishment of the Islamic State and the return of the caliphate . . . is wiped out.”
The use of the phrase “return of the caliphate” is a tacit acknowledgement to its followers that ISIS is preparing for loss of the core caliphate. The declaration comes amid repeated battlefield losses throughout Iraq. The U.S. backed Iraqi security forces have retaken, with U.S. and Iranian assistance, most of ISIS’s holdings in Iraq except the major city of Mosul. The Obama administration announced on July 11 it would deploy 560 more U.S. troops to Iraq to assist the Iraqi offensive against Mosul.
The Obama administration has continually defined success against ISIS in terms of the amount of territory seized from the group, and has not yet developed a strategy for dealing with the reversion of ISIS back to a terrorist group. “It’s as if we’ve decided by taking territory back, they won’t be terrorists anymore,” Dr. Frederick Kagan, Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute told The Daily Caller News Foundation.