As ISIS losses over 99% of its territory in the Middle East, it is important to evaluate the effect it has on the other parts of the world where sleeper cells are taking a more active role in Europe and North America, both attempted and actual attack have been witnessed despite the losing ground of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Reports indicate that attacks orchestrated by ISIS members and influenced by the organization in the West have taken a deep drop with only 4 reported in 2018. This is of significance as it is the first time since 2014 that the attacks by ISIS have dropped. In 2015 there were 14 attacks, 22 in 2016, 27 in 2017 and only 4 in 2018 showing a major drop in the number of attacks that could be attributed to the fall of ISIS central. Additionally, the toll of single attacks has reduced from 130 in 2015, 86 in 2016, 22 in 2017 to just 3 in 2018.
The ideology that ISIS fosters is still strong and being passed along both among immigrants and natives of the countries which is a great motivator of attacks in the West despite the seeming defeat of the Daesh. While the numbers show a positive trend in the fight against ISIS, the truth couldn’t be further. In fact, ISIS is still motivated to carry out attacks in the West as the number of thwarted attacks in the countries remains steady despite the defeat of the group in the Middle East.
Reasons for Drop in actualized attacks by ISIS in the West
- Increased counterterrorism efforts in the countries
- Public pressure to the governments to ensure both national and personal security of the citizens in the West
- Government and security agencies have become seasoned in hunting terrorists as well as understanding terror networks both at home and abroad
- Better and increased coordination between nations as well as formation on new alliances and joint task forces
- Increased surveillance both online and offline putting suspects on watchlists
- More terrorist arrests with at least 1000 arrested between 2015 and 2017
However, despite the aforementioned factors reducing the number of attacks, ISIS still poses a major threat to the West and their allies. Mostly, because ISIS leadership encourages the use of less sophisticated methods and weapons that make surveillance much more difficult. The most crucial strategy at ensuring that attacks end, is by addressing the root cause of terrorism that is radicalization.