FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

ISIS’s Last Gasps

The killing of three people in the south of France by a man claiming allegiance to Isis will make people doubt if this murderous cult is as dead as governments had announced and people had hoped. The answer is that the attack in the Carcassonne region by a single gunman, said to be a Moroccan petty criminal from the area, proves very little about the strength of Isis as a continuing threat.

It will always be easy for a single killer, who in this case has been named as 36-year-old Redouane Lakdim, to shoot down passers-by chosen at random or trapped in a supermarket. Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, a survivor of the Isis gang which killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November 2015, but there is no evidence so far that the killer, who has been shot dead by police, was part of a cell or that this was an attack organised from above or from outside the country.

Even if there was some degree of organisation behind the killings, it is important to take on board that atrocities carried out by Isis are geared to produce maximum publicity. Often, they happen close to iconic places in capital cities such as the Westminster or London Bridge attacks, or on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in 2016 when 86 people were mowed down and killed by a lorry deliberately driven into them. The very cruel and arbitrary nature of the murders are designed to achieve the maximum publicity.

Isis is far less important than it was three years ago when it controlled territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria the size of Great Britain. At that time its terrorist operations in France and elsewhere could call on the resources of a de facto state that had money, weapons, expertise and the capacity to inspire its gunmen and suicide bombers.

This is no longer true to anything like the same degree.

The Islamic State died with the capture of its great strongholds, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, in the second half of 2017. It does still have its hideouts in the deserts of the region and has benefited from the dispersal of effort in the campaign against it by the Iraqi government’s confrontation with the Iraqi Kurdish authorities over Kirkuk, and the Turkish invasion of Afrin that has diverted the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which had previously been fighting it. In a small way, Isis is back in business in its heartlands, though on nothing like the scale on which it previously operated.

Wherever there is chaos in Islamic countries, Isis will find opportunities to lodge itself and expand. Much of its most savage violence takes place largely below the radar of the international media, notably in Afghanistan where an Isis suicide bomber killed 33 and wounded 65 Shia celebrating the New Year in Kabul on 21 March.

Applause from social media sympathetic to Isis may give the impression that it still has a large base of support, but this is doubtful. Such support peaked when it was a new and rapidly expanding force in 2014 and 2015. Even then, it never became a vehicle in Europe for other social and political discontents and it is unlikely that this will happen now.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

Weekend Edition
February 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Timothy M. Gill
Why is the Venezuelan Government Rejecting U.S. Food Supplies?
John Pilger
The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies
Andrew Levine
Ilhan Omar Owes No Apologies, Apologies Are Owed Her
Jeffrey St. Clair
That Magic Feeling: the Strange Mystique of Bernie Sanders
David Rosen
Will Venezuela Crisis Split Democrats?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
Curtain Call: A Response to Edward Curtin
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump’s National Emergency Is The Exact Same As Barack Obama’s National Emergency
Paul Street
Buried Alive: The Story of Chicago Police State Racism
Rob Seimetz
Imagined Communities and Omitting Carbon Emissions: Shifting the Discussion On Climate Change
Ramzy Baroud
Russian Mediation: The Critical Messages of the Hamas-Fatah Talks in Moscow
Michael Welton
Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming’s Monster Awakens
Huma Yasin
Chris Christie Spins a Story, Once Again
Ron Jacobs
Twenty-First Century Indian Wars
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Venezuela: a Long History of Hostility
Lance Olsen
Climate and Money: a Tale of Two Accounts
Louis Proyect
El Chapo and the Path Taken
Fred Gardner
The Rise of Kamala Harris
John W. Whitehead
Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Biomass is Not “Green”: an Interview With Josh Schlossberg
John Feffer
Answering Attacks on the Green New Deal
W. T. Whitney
US Racism and Imperialism Fuel Turbulence in Haiti
Kim Ives
How Trump’s Attacks on Venezuela Sparked a Revolution in Haiti
Mike Ferner
What War Films Never Show You
Lawrence Wittner
Should the U.S. Government Abide by the International Law It Has Created and Claims to Uphold?
James Graham
A Slow Motion Striptease in France
Dave Lindorff
Could Sanders 2.0 Win It All, Getting the Democratic Nomination and Defeating Trump?
Jill Richardson
Take It From Me, Addiction Doesn’t Start at the Border
Yves Engler
Canada and the Venezuela Coup Attempt
Tracey L. Rogers
We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down
Gary Leupp
The Sounds of Silence
Dan Bacher
Appeals Court Rejects Big Oil’s Lawsuit Against L.A. Youth Groups, City of Los Angeles
Robert Koehler
Are You White, Black or Human?
Ralph Nader
What are Torts? They’re Everywhere!
Sarah Schulz
Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency, Naked Capitalism Is
James Campbell
In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Corregidor’s Iconography of Empire
Jonah Raskin
The Muckraking Novelist Dashiell Hammett: A Red Literary Harvest
Kim C. Domenico
Revolutionary Art and the Redemption of the Local
Paul Buhle
Life and Crime in Blue Collar Rhode Island
Eugene Schulman
J’Accuse!
Nicky Reid
Zionists are the Most Precious Snowflakes
Jim Goodman
The Green New Deal Outlines the Change Society Needs
David Yearsley
The Political Lyre
Cesar Chelala
The Blue Angel and JFK: One Night in Camelot
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail