Posted by Lena Masri and Ali Abdelaty | 25 May 2019 | 1,015 times
After losing territory, Islamic State fighters are turning to guerrilla war – and the group’s newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.
In recent weeks, IS’s al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.
At the height of its power IS ruled over millions in large parts of Syria and Iraq.
But in March it lost its last significant piece of territory, the Syrian village of Baghouz, and the group has been forced to return to its roots: a style of fighting that avoids direct confrontation, weakening the enemy by attrition and winning popular support.
This attempt to revive Islamic State has so far been successful, analysts say, with many global attacks in recent weeks, including in places never before targeted by the group.
“The sad reality is that ISIS is still very dangerous,” said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremists. “It has the tools and foundations needed to build insurgencies across the world.”
In a rare video published by IS’s Al Furqan network in April, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi encouraged followers to fight on and weaken the enemy by attrition, stressing that waging war is more important than winning.
It was more downbeat than his only other video appearance from the pulpit of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in 2014, when he was dressed all in black and sporting a fancy watch.
In the new video, he sat cross-legged on a mattress as he spoke to three aides. A Kalashnikov rifle rested against the wall behind him — the same type of weapon that appeared in videos of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Baghdadi’s predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who both adopted the guerrilla warfare tactic.
“He appeared as a commander of hardened mujahideen, of an insurgency group, not the pampered leader of a well-off caliphate,” said Katz. “His appearance totally mobilised Islamic State’s supporters all over the world.”
•Excerpted from a Reuters report.
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