ISIS is rebuilding ‘like Al-Qaeda on steroids’ as expert warns sleeper cells will unleash ‘decade of terror’ in Europe
The Sun · by · December 23, 2019
ISIS is rapidly rebuilding in Iraq after being transformed into “Al-Qaeda on steroids”, warn regional terror experts.
The worrying news comes amid fears thousands of jihadis returning from the Middle East are poised to unleash a new decade of terror across Europe.
ISIS is feared to be rapidly rebuilding while hiding out in mountainsCredit: INTERNETUS troops have already been sent to Iraq to stop a feared ISIS resurgenceCredit: AFP or licensorsIntelligence officials have told the BBC that ISIS’s presence in Iraq has become a sophisticated insurgency – two years after it lost its last stronghold in the country.
They say the militants are now more skilled and dangerous than ever before and attacks are on the rise in the battle-scarred country.
“They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal,” said Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official.
“They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy.
“It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like Al-Qaeda on steroids.”
He also revealed ISIS is also far more difficult to target as they have gone into hiding in Iraq’s Hamrin Mountains.
A top Kurdish intelligence official says ISIS is rebuilding in Iraq ‘like Al-Qaeda on steroids'”This is the hub for ISIS right now,” said Talabany.
“It’s a long range of mountains, and very difficult for the Iraqi army to control. There are a lot of hide-outs and caves.”
The top US military commander in Iraq confirmed ISIS is now trying to reconstitute itself in the wake of the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
However, Brigadier General William Seely, Commander of Task Force-Iraq, said local forces on the ground are better prepared than in 2014 when ISIS gained control of a third of Iraq and took Mosul.
“The ISF [Iraqi security forces] and the Peshmerga are not the same forces as when Mosul fell,” he said.
It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like al-Qaeda on steroids
Lahur Talabany, Kurdish counter-terrorism official
“We have been here adding to their training. The ISF is keeping their foot on the pedal to ensure the momentum against Daesh [IS] remains steady.”
In October, the Pentagon ordered 1,000 troops deployed in Syria to head to Iraq to battle the ISIS comeback.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said last night: “The troops going into Iraq will have two missions.
“One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps.
“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”
Smoke billowing from the site of a bomb drop in Mosul by coalition forces in July 2017Credit: Getty ImagesIraqi security force vehicles are seen in the Old City of Mosul after ISIS fledCredit: ReutersEarlier today, a car bomb exploded in Iraq’s western province of Anbar killing two soldiers and wounding another.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but ISIS militants have carried out a string of attacks there since they lost control and reverted to hit-and-run insurgency tactics.
The new warnings about Iraq come as Europe was warned it also faces years of shocking new terror attacks.
Terror experts have warned jihadi ideas now have a “solid base” in western countries such as Britain, Germany and France, reports the Daily Star Online.
And they say fighters returning to Europe could mastermind a new wave of attacks after passing on their training, skills and ideologies.
Dr Paul Stott, research fellow from the Henry Jackson Society, said further attacks going into the next decade are “highly likely”.
He said: “Islamist ideas now have a solid base in a series of western European countries, most notably France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Sweden.
“That some will seek to use force to bring those ideas to fruition, is inevitable.”
It is estimated there were 30,000 ISIS fighters from 104 different nations, including around 6,000 from EU states.
Down but not out… it’s feared ISIS lives on with sleeper cellsCredit: Alamy
The Sun · by · December 23, 2019