So we have some good news and bad news. The good news is that ISIS — the homophobic religious extremist militant terrorist group that became infamous for its videos of gay men being thrown off of rooftops — is seriously losing territory in the Middle East. It recently lost its stronghold in the Iraqi city of Mosul and is beset on all sides as it tries to maintain control of its Syrian capitol in Raqqa. Many Muslim citizens welcome this as the group tends to kill Muslims more than any other group.
But here’s the bad news: Even if ISIS loses all of its territory in the Middle East, its fighters are likely to do one of two things, and neither of them are good. They can either return to their home countries — by July 2016, an estimated 40,000 radicalized foreign fighters had immigrated to the Middle East to serve ISIS — raising the likelihood that they’ll carry out ISIS-inspired terror attacks there.
Or, the fighters can stay around the Middle East and wait to see what the U.S. military does. If the U.S. sticks around, the U.S. will keep approximately 1,000 troops stationed in Syria and 6,000 in Iraq, but this will put them in harms way, costs taxpayers millions (if not billions) of dollars and contradict U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign promise to invest American resources at home rather than abroad.
If the U.S. military leaves, Daesh/ISIS could hover and join one of remaining warring factions in Iraq and Syria, potentially increasing their influence and returning to power one day.
Here’s a video of what could happen if Daesh/ISIS loses in the Middle East:
No matter what, the fighters will have to go somewhere. And if their presence gets erased from the Middle East entirely, Yochi Dreazen, foreign editor of the news explainer site Vox, worries that they will become “lone wolf” terrorists who carry out attacks similar to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida or continue to inspire such attacks as loyal to ISIS ideology. (While the Pulse shooter was not a member of ISIS, he did claim solidarity with them and committed the act in their name.)
Dreazen explains, “At the end of that day, that’s the hardest thing about ISIS. It can be beaten on the ground in Iraq and Syria…. but it’s going from being a place to an idea, and it is impossible, impossible, to defeat an idea.”
Featured image by oneinchpunch via iStock
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