Sunday, October 29, 2017

What if You’d Been an ISIS Fighter?, by Sophie Mangal

Inside Syria Media Center military correspondents in Iraq have recently reported that ISIS members are surrendering in dozens in their stronghold in Iraq’s Al-Hawija area. They estimate that the Iraqi Army has nearly completed the operation on recapturing the city.

It seems that hard times have come for ISIS jihadists on all fronts. 9-month-long standoff in Mosul came to a logical end. Tal-Afar was recaptured after that much faster, in just 11 days.

In Syria, the Islamists have also been demoralized. Thousands of bombs of the Syrian AF and its allies were dropped on their sinful heads in al-Mayadin. Fearing a complete encirclement, ISIS terrorists are trying to escape from the residential areas of Deir Ezzor towards Abu Kamal.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Jawad Kadhim Al-Abadi announced a large-scale offensive of the Iraqi regular army against the cities of Al-Qa’im and Rawa located on the banks of the Euphrates River (northwest of Anbar province) near the border with Syria on 26 October 2017.

In addition, daily movement of small columns of SUVs and unsuccessful attempts to force the Euphrates have been spotted. Up to 150 strikes are carried out per day on the hidden areas where the Islamists are located. And the situation for them now is, frankly speaking, dramatic. The moment is drawing near when the armies of the two states (Syria and Iraq) will not only meet at the border but unite their efforts for a joint large-scale operation to clean up the territories and to eliminate the trapped militants.

The question arises, why won’t field commanders and Wilayat Emirs unite their efforts to solve their problems, discuss the further strategy at any secret meeting and organize some kind of a united resistance front? Perhaps the truth is that they are a perfect target from the air at such a gathering, even on the territory controlled by the Islamists and the rivalry is becoming stronger among them.

The only force attempting to save its unique creation is the United States. Rapid liberation of the Euphrates valley clearly goes against their scheme. To achieve its goals, the US-led coalition sharply reduced the intensity of attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Their At-Tanf base boosted its capacities for infiltration of terrorists to the rear of the advancing Syrian Arab Army (SAA) providing them with all the necessary reconnaissance data. The US SOF (special operations forces) successfully evacuate the unsuccessful IS commanders from the battlefield at the same time.

What choice does ordinary ISIS terrorist have in this situation?  After all, the dreams of a glorious life in the caliphate collapse under the pressure of the true Muslims fighting against the ‘black evil’ for the freedom of their countries and their religion.

Such failed militants have only one way – to surrender at the mercy of the winner and hope for an amnesty as it is now happening as a result of the offensive of the Syrian and Iraqi government armies. They also have a chance to get lost in the crowd of refugees moving around the country seeking asylum and a better life so that to be legalized in this way. Another possible way to save their own skin can be the transfer of terrorists to the West to organize recruitment and subversive activities there. But in that case, most likely, they will also have to join the ranks of suicide bombers.

In addition, IS fighters can certainly concentrate on the Syrian-Iraqi border creating an in-depth defense against the armies advancing from both sides, but this is unlikely to save them from complete failure. Moreover, there will be simply no one to lead such a defense. There are still strong contradictions in the ranks of the high command of the Islamists. Someone from the field commanders is constantly attempting to eliminate competitors and leaks the coordinates of every meeting venue to the government troops.

What would you do in such a difficult situation if you were an ISIS fighter? Whatever you come up with, definitely you’d better heed one advice. If you still sympathize with Jihadists, support their ways and methods of warfare, eager to earn money, to kill, rape, destroy with impunity, become a human trafficker under the guise of a mysterious jihad allegedly for the sake of supposedly oppressed Muslims and faith and if you then decided to leave your country seeking vague prospects, you must carefully think about the serious risk of dying ingloriously. 

If you are a terrorists’ supporter you should think about your unprofitable questionable investments and about a way how to transfer assets out of your business. But if you have already been an Islamist you’d better be prepared for the worst.