With the gradual decline of the Islamic State (ISIS), it might be tempting to think that the Islamic extremist group is becoming less dangerous. However, according to several experts, this is not true.
The Daily Caller reported that Gilles De Kerchove, the European Union anti-terror chief issued a grave warning to the western world. In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, he said that Islamic terrorists are working towards gaining the capability to launch cyberterrorist attacks against the west. He stated that there had been no cases of cyberterrorism yet, but he “would not be surprised if it happened in the next five years.”
ISIS is losing a significant amount of territory in the Middle East. In Iraq, they hold only a fraction of the amount of land they possessed previously. They are being driven out of Syria. CNN recently reported that Hezbollah – a Lebanese terrorist group – has nearly pushed the Islamic State out of Lebanon. However, the organization’s losses should not lull the west into a false sense of security – ISIS still poses a threat.
Radical Islamic Cyber Attacks Could Become A Reality
While Islamic terrorists do not have the means to launch cyber attacks against the west, De Kerchove has stated that these types of attacks could be on the horizon. Extremists plan to use these methods to shut down nuclear power plants and disrupt airspace systems. Needless to say, these types of offensives could cause considerable damage to major cities in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, groups like the Islamic State plan to increase their presence in the west.
The E.U. anti-terror chief indicated that “more than 50,000” individuals in Europe are Islamic extremists. The U.K. houses the highest number of radicalized Muslims – there are up to 25,000 radical Islamists. British Intelligence Agency, MI5, have identified 3,000 of these individuals as “worrying.” 17,000 extremists live in France while Spain and Belgium have about 5,000 and 2,000, respectively.
How Should The West Oppose Islamic Terrorism?
In discussing ways to deal with the threat of terrorism, De Kerchove suggested that constant surveillance could be an effective weapon, “We must select those who are really worrying and the most dangerous, and they should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The fact that ISIS is losing more territory is an encouraging sign, but by no means does it indicate that the war on terror is over. The Islamic State is not surrendering; they are only moving to the next phase of their plan – to use social media to spread their propaganda and infiltrate western countries with smaller cells of operatives to carry out attacks. If the amount of radical extremists in Europe is any indication, the terrorist group is successfully implementing their plan. European nations have experienced a high number of Islamic terrorist attacks against their citizens.
The United States must remain vigilant in the fight against Islamic extremism. Groups like ISIS do not only have their sights set on Europe – they intend to carry out their attacks here as well. The Trump administration has taken some positive steps in the right direction with its extreme vetting efforts. However, we must also watch out for homegrown terrorists as well. ISIS has an expansive reach on social media – despite the efforts of social media companies to stop them.
Rooting Out Extremism
If the west is going to destroy Islamic extremism, we must begin to look for other methods of rooting out individuals who wish to harm the United States. We must make sure that we hold our elected officials accountable for protecting us. Americans need leadership who is willing to do what it takes to avoid the situation with which Europe is faced.