Even though the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may not have the kind of control it once did in these two nations, it continues to threaten the rest of the world, the latest targets being the US, the UK, France and several European nations.
The Iraqi government on Sunday, December 10, announced that the ISIS terrorists had been flushed out of the country and that it was "totally liberated." Before that, Russia's General Staff had made similar claims about ISIS in Syria and said that all the group's units had been destroyed. So now that ISIS has reportedly lost control in both Iraq and Syria, what's next?
Nikita Mendkovich, a political analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, believes that Iraq and Syria's victory puts Afghanistan in a vulnerable position. The South Asian nation has seen decades of instability and troubled times, thanks to Taliban, and this might not be over for Afghanistan just yet.
Mendkovich explained to RT that surviving ISIS terrorists will find it easy to sneak into Afghanistan and this might make it the "most probable" new foothold for the terror group. "There has been long time instability in Afghanistan and a high level of terrorist activity in the context of the weakness of the governmental security agencies," he said.
Afghanistan already has several groups fighting in favour of ISIS and they might just join hands with the terrorists fleeing from these Middle Eastern nations. "Currently, the groups fighting under the Islamic State flag are active in many regions of Afghanistan, including the Nangarhar Province and in some northern areas, like Kunduz," Mendkovich added.
He also spoke about how ISIS funded its activities and told RT that while the group had access to oil fields in the Middle Eastern countries, Afghanistan could be beneficial to the terror group due to the money it makes from "drug trafficking, illegal extraction of semi and precious stones as well as racket [defrauding] of humanitarian projects in the region, financed by Western sponsors."
Apart from Afghanistan, Mendkovich believes that the migrant ISIS terrorists may also end up in European nations, mostly France, Germany and Austria. He notes that here they may be able to "live without papers" and without any interference from authorities.
Meanwhile, France also seems to be one of the targets of the terror group this holiday season. ISIS has threatened to attack Paris on New Year's Day in a brand new digitally created propaganda poster, which shows revellers in front of the Arc de Triomphe and the image is coated with a knife dripping with blood. The caption on the poster reads: "We will make New Year's Day hell," reported the Daily Mail.
The group's propaganda department the Wafa Media Foundation has been coming up with several such posters in the recent past, encouraging lone-wolf attacks in the west.
This threat comes days after ISIS warned of a Christmas attack in NYC. At the time, the terrorists had released a poster that shows Santa Claus on a roof of a building overlooking the Times Square. Next to Santa is a box of dynamite and the caption reads: "We meet at Christmas in New York... soon."
ISIS has released a few other posters as well, in which it threatens to attack London's Regent Street and Paris' Eiffel Tower, both decked up in Christmas lights. The posters also show a crowd of revellers at Christmas markets in various places in UK, France and Germany and carry the caption: "Soon on your holidays," written in English, French and German. ISIS also seems to be aiming to attack the Vatican in Rome and one of the posters shows a terrorist armed with a rocket launcher overlooking the St Peter's Square in the Vatican.