ISIS’ Global Network Expands: At Least 12 Military Allies In 9 Countries Beyond Iraq, Syria
by SAMUEL SMITH
The Islamic State terrorist organization now has at least 12 known military allies, operating in nine countries outside of Iraq and Syria, that have publicly pledged their allegiances to the caliphate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
As Islamic State leadership continues to call on extremists worldwide to wreak havoc on the West, NYMag.com’s Daily Intelligencer reports that the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has identified 12 international militia organizations that are now affiliating their efforts with the Islamic State’s jihad and could help expand the group’s caliphate.
Militia allies in Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Philippines, Jordan and Gaza/Israel have all announced some sort of cooperation with the Islamic State and al-Baghdadi. Many of these organizations were recently affiliated with Al Qaeda and have since switched to ISIS allegiances over the summer and into the fall.
In the latest edition of ISIS’ English language online magazine, Dabiq, the group details its plans for its expansion into North Africa and the Arabian Peninsuala.
“On the 17th of Muharram 1436 (Muslim year), the world heard announcements from the mujāhidīn of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, Sinai, Libya, and Algeria, pronouncing their [allegiances] to the Khalīfah of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the Dabiq article states. “All of them announced uniformly: We call the Muslims everywhere to give bay’ah to the Khalīfah and support him, in obedience to Allah and actualization of the unheeded obligation of the era.”
In the North African country of Libya, a new group founded at the beginning of 2014, Islamic Youth Shura Council, has already made significant headway for the Islamic State by seizing control of the Mediterranean coastal town of Derna in April. Although the group initially pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda when it was first established, the group formally switched its allegiance to ISIS in June. In October, the group announced Derna as an official ISIS outpost, making it a rare ISIS-controlled town outside of Iraq and Syria.
“It is incumbent on us to support this oppressed Islamic State that is taken as an enemy by those near and those far, among the infidels or the hypocrites, or those with dead souls alike,” a statement issued by Islamic Youth Shura Council states.
TRAC Editorial Director Veryan Khan told Daily Intellegencer that she believes the Islamic Youth Shura Council could have a huge impact on luring Libya’s inland extremists considering the nature of the country’s volatile political climate.
In Algeria, a group that once held close ties to Al Qaeda leadership called Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate), issued their pledge of allegiance to ISIS in September. This particular militia group held personal ties to Osama Bin Laden and current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The group’s leader, Gouri Abdelmalek, issued a statement claiming Al Qaeda “has deviated from the true path.”
No more than two weeks after Jund al-Khilafa publicized its ISIS affiliation, the group beheaded a French man in the name of the Islamic State to avenge for France’s participation in U.S.-Coalition airstrikes against ISIS.
“The Caliphate soldiers have actually beheaded on the Islamic State’s behalf,” Khan said.
As was reported earlier in November, the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in Egypt has pledged its support to ISIS and currently contains about 1,000 fighters. Since Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was kicked out of power in July of 2013, the leadership of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis felt that it was in their best interest to pledge loyalty to ISIS in hopes that the Islamic State’s leaders would provide more supplies to help the group defeat Cairo’s military leadership. After the group pledged its allegiance, it was renamed to Wilayat Sinai, which means the governance of Sinai.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis also has a branch that operates in Gaza, which has previously conducted attacks against Israel. According to TRAC, the group claimed responsibility for launching rockets into Israel in July. Since pledging its allegiance to ISIS, the Gaza branch of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has changed its name to al-Dawla al-Islamiyya, which in English simply means “the Islamic State.”
Exanding into Asia via affiliates in Pakistan, a country that consists of 97 percent muslims and has a low tolerance for blaspheming against Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, multiple militia organizations have expressed their ISIS allegiance.
Last Monday, a former Pakistani Taliban splinter group called Jundallah pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State. Jundallah joins other Pakistani Taliban militia’s such as Tehreek-e-Khilafat and Jamaat al-Ahrar, who pledged allegiance over the summer. All three of the former Taliban groups had close ties with Al Qaeda leadership and as the Intelligencer points out, Al Qaeda is starting to lose much of its affiliated support due to the emergence of ISIS.
“[ISIS] is our brothers, whatever plan they have we will support them,” a Jundallah spokesperson said.
In the Philippines, the group Abu Sayyat pledged allegiance to the Islamic State over the summer and has been attempting to create its Islamic governance within the archipelago. The group successfully received a $5 million ransom payment after they kidnapped and threatened to behead two German captives.
In mid July, Ashorut Tauhid, an Indonesian militia group based in Java, issued its allegiance to ISIS when the group’s arrested leader pledged from inside his jail cell. However, the decision to pledge allegiance to ISIS was to the dismay of many of the group’s top members, who have since left the group.
In Lebanon, the group that took credit for the 2013 bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade, issued its allegiance to ISIS through a Twitter post in June.
The Sons of the Call for Tawhid and Jihad, a Jordan-based youth militia, that is believed to have thousands of members, denounced Al Qaeda leadership in July and offered their support to ISIS.
Although TRAC’s analysis identified just 12 international militia organizations, TRAC holds that there could possibly be more groups that have pledge allegiance to ISIS but have not done so publicly.