U.S. intelligence officers warn that ISIS is working to build their capability to carry out mass casualty attacks. This marks a departure from the terror group’s prior focus on encouraging lone wolf attacks across the globe where ISIS supporters already live and work.
Until now, the intelligence community had believed ISIS only capable of attacks involving very few participants and lacking any sophisticated weaponry, while al Qaeda has been seen as both more capable of and focused on mass casualty attacks.
Al Qaeda (now often referred to as AQAP for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and ISIS are competing for attention, recruits and financing—thus driving ISIS to augment their capabilities with larger scale attacks.
On July 18th, Saudi Arabian officials reported the arrest of 400 ISIS members in connection to potential terrorist attacks, as well as a suicide bombing in May and a shooting in November 2014. These arrests followed a deadly ISIS attack in Iraq that killed 115 people.
ISIS still claims to have between 20,000 to 30,000 fighters throughout Iraq and Syria—levels similar to those before the U.S. airstrikes. While the coalition has killed many ISIS fighters, little if any progress has been made as the terror organization regularly replenishes its ranks via aggressive recruitment videos and social media propaganda.
In the West, Muslim terror groups may seem indistinguishable from one another, but their fight for power and influence may eventually impact us all.