By: Annette Brinckerhoff
This month marks the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims around the world. This year, it also came with a call from ISIS to carry out terror attacks against the infidels. ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said, “O mujahidin everywhere, rush and move to make Ramadan a month of disaster, embark and hasten towards jihad.”
Since June 17th, Daesh has taken responsibility for attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, Yemen and France. Meaning that they successfully inspired individuals with no direct connection to each other or to ISIS to conduct these acts of terror. It shows a growing influence on the actions of individuals worldwide, and the power that the group has consolidated.
On the eve of Ramadan, five car bombs targeted mosques in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The attack killed 31 people and injured hundreds. A few hours after the brutal attack, the IS branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks saying it was done “as revenge for Muslims against the Rafidi Houthi’s”. A few days later bombs exploded in a Shi’ite mosque in Kuwait, killing 27. Again, as a result of IS believing that Shi’ite muslims aren’t actually muslim and just as much infidels as the rest of us.
In the early hours of Friday, again, a lone individual killed, beheaded, and set the head of a local business man on a fence of an industrial gas plant in France.A few hours later, a lone gunman opened fire on tourists in Tunisia on Friday, killing at least 37 in a tourist resort.
Though there is no evidence that these four depraved acts of violence were coordinated by the central ISIS leadership, they seem to be in response to al-Adnani’s call for jihad during the holy month of Ramadan. This strategy of lone-wolf attacks is one that the caliphate has embraced successfully. If jihad is carried out by individuals across the globe, with no central leadership planning and coordinating, then it makes it incredibly difficult for the organization to be dismantled.
By committing the resources to recruit people outside its territory, ISIS has gained the following of countless individuals working to further IS’s goals of invoking terror.
What this means for the global counterterrorism strategy is that military violence against the central figures of IS is not a solution. The war against ISIS has become a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of every person who feels disenfranchised. The problem is that while IS has successfully spread their narrative, the rest of the world hasn’t found a cohesive and consistent counter narrative.
Until we commit the resources to fight a war for the hearts and minds of those the world has pushed aside, we won’t even be fighting on the same playing field as IS.