Islamic State ‘brand’ spreading worldwide: experts

January 17, 2016 8:53 am
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Afghan security personnel inspect a building used by insurgents to launch an attack on the Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad/AFP
Afghan security personnel inspect a building used by insurgents to launch an attack on the Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad/AFP
PARIS, Jan 17 – The Islamic State group may be losing ground in its strongholds of Iraq and Syria but as the attack in Indonesia this month showed, the jihadists are rallying other groups under their banner, analysts say.

In most cases, these groups have no direct contact with the leadership of IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, but the group is happy to claim responsibility for the blood spilled in its name, the experts say.

“From the start, Islamic State has vowed to take its fight globally, but until recently it has been focused on managing its caliphate in Iraq and Syria,” said Michael Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

With the Iraqi army re-taking some of the territory the group had taken, IS “has re-dedicated attention to focusing on a more global approach”, he said.

“The big question, after the Jakarta attacks and all of these attacks around the world in recent months that have been claimed by ISIS is – are these militants only inspired by ISIS or have they been directly managed by ISIS?” he said, using another name for the group.

Kugelman, like all of the experts questioned by AFP, believes that IS is for now content to take credit for the attacks, using the “brand recognition” of its name that has spread across the world, partly through social media, without necessarily dedicating resources or manpower to these groups.

“What you have here are disillusioned, alienated militants, who have been fighting with a different organisation, who are interested in identifying themselves with a more dynamic cause. And they see ISIS as a very dynamic cause – they are in the media all the time and commit spectacularly brutal attacks.”

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