Dec 20 2017

Islamic State mutating as fighters leave Syria

Jihadis loyal to the fast-crumbling Islamic State (ISIS) are likely to carry out atrocities in Europe or move elsewhere to fight on other fronts, according to a report published in Buzzfeed on Tuesday.

“ISIS members who reach Europe,” the report said, “can help the militants’ twin goals of sowing terror while fuelling the populist backlash against Muslim refugees. Those who join its global affiliates – such as in the Philippines or Libya – can help expand its global reach.”

Others are being used as part of sleeper cells, to rejoin the struggle for a caliphate when conditions become more favourable, it said.

“One man who left Raqqa this summer said ISIS commanders had encouraged him and other fighters to wait in Turkey for a call to return – a command in line with concerns expressed by intelligence officers that ISIS will attempt a comeback in Iraq and Syria if global attention shifts elsewhere.”

The report quoted an unnamed Turkish government official as saying that ISIS members were being granted safe passage to Turkey by the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“It is unreasonable to expect Turkey to take care of this problem,” he was quoted as saying. “The SDF’s actions in Syria could place European security at risk.”

However, an anonymous smuggler who helped former fighters escape westward from Turkey was more positive about his clients’ futures.

“I know they were ISIS, and I also know they will go to Europe and change their lives,” Buzzfeed quoted him as saying.