by Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Recent military developments in Mosul, Iraq and Aleppo, Syria highlight the mounting successes of both those regimes and their armed forces, backed by outside powers. In contrast, the Syrian rebels and iSIS in Iran are in significant retreat. Islamic State (once called Daesh - The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has lost extensive swathes of territory within the last few months and the largest city under its control, Mosul, is under siege. Iraqi government forces, augmented by Kurdish Pesh-murga and Afghan Shiite militias, threaten to invade the city and engage in house to house combat with Islamic State Jihadists.
Islamic State volunteers will soon be unemployed.
Rumors, possibly planted as psychological warfare, report an emerging coalition of forces that will invade the Raqa, capital city of Islamic State, and bring it back under Syria's wings.
If the increased outside aid continues for another few months, we will witness the return of the central government in both these countries to active control over the areas torn from its grasp over the past two years. The big question is, what happens to the thousands of Islamic State fighters after its defeat? Little attention is being afforded that question in the West, where the defeat of Islamic State and its break-up are seen as the most important missions right now, to be accomplished before IS manages to enlist more and more Jihadists to its cause and before it can export its ideology and activities, especially those threatening the connections between the heads and necks of Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Alawites, Druze and Jews - its preferred victims.
What happened to to thousands of IS fighters is what happened 15 years ago to the earlier version of avant-garde Jihadism, that is, al Qaeda. On October 7, 2001, less than a month after 9/11, the war began against Mullah-led Afghanistan, which had become al Qaeda's host state,home to its hundreds of terrorist bases and its own institutions, schools and prisons. In the training camps there, candidates practiced the necessary tactics for travelling to other countries in order to carry on world Jihad against infidels and Zionists. During the war, the wide-ranging infrastructure of al Qaeda was destroyed, its leaders went into hiding and its thousands of Jihadists were either killed, escaped to wherever possible or were caught by the coalition forces and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Those that succeeded in fleeing established local al Qaeda branches wherever they were. The Arabian Peninsula, that is to say, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, are places where this was the case, while other branches were formed in North Africa, Nigeria, Iraq and the Balkans. Each branch takes upon itself the task of continuing Jihad, threatening the stability of the local regime - which it considers illegitimate and a product of European colonialism - with the ultimate goal the elimination of Western hegemony and every vestige of Western culture.
What is happening and will continue to happen to the Islamic State Jihadists will be quite similar: those who elect to be put on trial will remain alive, those who fight may even reach Paradise, and those who surrender have sons who will continue the Jihad against the West. At this very time, there is already a conflict between Jihadist groups in Libya who are products of Islamic State, and these conflicts may soon turn into open warfare between the different organizations.
However, there is another group of fighters who will return to Europe after an absence of years. They feel that the local European arena has been waiting for them and is ready and willing for a counter-revolution to take place so as to save it from the enemy. We have already seen some of the results of this group's struggle - in the Paris triangle on Friday night, November 13, 2015.
Europe is in a dilemma over whether to allow Islamic state fighters who are citizens of the various European states to return to their countries of origin. According to the liberal "human rights" approach, countries must provide these people with a fair trial, listen to their version of the story and allow them to defend themselves. On the other hand, there is a general feeling among the public that a liberal modern state should not protect the right of an individual to shake the very foundations of its existence.
To summarize, let me state that we are in the midst of the process of the export of jihadists from the Islamic revolution to all four corners of the globe, with emphasis on those with Islamic populations, as those residents extend a friendly welcoming environment to Jihadists, provide them with easy access to ways of enlisting more militants, and offer available shelter in case government law enforcers look for suspects. Some tens of Muslims with Israeli identity cards reached Islamic State over the past five years. We would like to think that the authorities are aware of the problem and are prepared to act in a way that will keep democracy not only in name but also in action.
Translated for Arutz Sheva by Rochel Sylvetsky, Op-ed and Judaism Editor.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.
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