Two years ago, ISIS burst onto the scene and announced its plans to establish a caliphate across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
Look how damn big they dreamed.
Well, much like that novel you’ve been halfheartedly working on for years that you swore up and down would establish you as the future of American fiction, ISIS has given up on its dreams.
Allow me the world’s most satisfying, sarcastic, sad face.
Damn. That felt good. A new report by The Washington Post, based on a series of communiques from the terrorist group and interviews with members, found that leadership is secretly prepping for defeat.
Hey, let’s role back that sad face one more time.
Damn that really does feel good.
A remarkable editorial last month in al-Naba, the Islamic State’s weekly Arabic newsletter, offered a gloomy assessment of the caliphate’s prospects, acknowledging the possibility that all its territorial holdings could ultimately be lost.
In recent speeches and social media posts, as well, the group has been reminding followers that they were once nearly defeated in 2008 and survived. It’s believed they are trying to brace members for something similar.
The same themes were repeated in an otherwise upbeat sermon by the Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, marking the start of Ramadan observances. Adnani’s missive attracted international attention because of its call for a global terrorism campaign during the Muslim holy month. But Adnani also appeared to be preparing his followers for heavy losses.
At one point he evoked one of the darkest chapters in the Islamic State’s history, when the group — then known as the Islamic State of Iraq — was all but destroyed in 2008 by a combination of forces, including the U.S. troop surge and the “Anbar Awakening,” a revolt against the Islamists by Sunni Arab tribes.
The group’s near-defeat in 2008 also has been cited multiple times in recent weeks in social-media accounts, suggesting to some analysts that its leaders are trying to limit the inevitable damage to the Islamic State’s reputation among jihadists as an unstoppable military and moral force.
Unfortunately, though, experts are worried that if ISIS’s territorial holdings are reduced to nothing, it could lead to many more lone wolf attacks, like the ones we are seeing now.
The deadly attacks against Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and Baghdad’s Karrada shopping district — both relatively easy targets for terrorists concerned only with massive numbers of civilian casualties — were probably also part of the same effort to reassure followers of the Islamic State’s vitality, said Will McCants, a Brookings Institution researcher and author of the 2015 book “ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State.”
“The successful attacks abroad are an indication of deep worry at home,” McCants said. After years of boasting of the group’s invincibility, leaders such as Adnani are beginning to acknowledge battlefield losses while attempting to depict them in the most positive light, he said. Absent from the group’s statements is any acknowledgment of strategic and tactical errors that contributed to the Islamic State’s current predicament, fighting alone against a broad array of forces that includes the major Western powers, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Russians and Kurds, McCants said.
“They’re not trying to be clever about it,” he said, “but they’re really trying to prepare their followers to cope with a ‘caliphate’ that is no longer a caliphate.
But just like you stopped sending your shitty novel out to agents to save them the annoyance after you knew it was a failure, maybe ISIS could give up on lashing out at Western nations now that it knows its caliphate is no more.
That would save everyone a lot of fucking trouble, you know?
[Via The Washington Post]