Remember when President Barack Obama said there was “no military solution to terrorism?” Despite the expulsion of the Islamic State group from Raqqa, the capital of its self-declared “caliphate” and the last significant population center under its control, it turns out he was right.
What we’re seeing is the decline of the Islamic State group as an organization that holds territory and governs people. But the end of the group itself? Not even close. The end of terrorism? An illusion.
Instead, this is simply the group’s latest organizational transformation – a shift from a more or less conventional army holding territory as part of an extremist dictatorship, back to its origins as an old-fashioned terrorist organization known for brutal acts of up-close and personal violence.
Even as Islamic State group fighters are driven out, a Pentagon think tank holds the organization responsible for at least 1,500 attacks in 16 towns and cities across Iraq and Syria. That’s likely to continue. An escalation of terror attacks further abroad remains a likely result, too – particularly as foreign recruits return to their home countries.