Friday, October 26, 2018

The Bottom Line is that ISIL is Less Effective

Yes, ISIL strength has been gutted by defeating the caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

I know I've addressed the ridiculous notion that there are as many ISIL fighters now in Iraq and Syria as there were when ISIL was a caliphate controlling territory. I've read that new estimates count supporters and family members and include a boasting factor as fighters try to intimidate locals.

General Dunford attacks the notion from a different angle:

When we started in 2014, really, a concerted effort in Iraq and Syria, the estimates, as I recall, were 20(000) to 30,000 fighters. Is that about right? About, you know, three or four years ago. And today, you know, many of the think tanks and so forth that have published have said the number is about 20(000) to 30,000, which would be the same.

I find that very difficult to believe. And so I would have to – to address your question, Kim, I’d have to see what is the methodology – what is the geographic orientation of the study. Here’s what we know. So we can talk about numbers. We know that the numbers of attacks from 2016, 2017 and into 2018 have significantly reduced. We know that.

We know that the lethality of those attacks have significantly reduced, and that’s not ISIS attacks. It’s overall terrorist attacks. I don’t think we ever knew the numbers of people that might be inclined towards radicalization back in 2014 and I’m not sure we know that number today, which is why many of the nations today are talking about efforts to ensure that individuals don’t become radicalized and those that have become radicalized, you know, are re-educated, so to speak.

But I don’t have a lot of confidence in numbers that are being bounced around and I would find it hard to believe that the numbers of individual terrorists have significantly increased at the same time the numbers of attacks and the lethality of attacks has significantly decreased.

How you can argue that a force that is unable to even approach a past pace of terror attacks is anywhere near its past strength is beyond me.