Almost 50% of ISIS attacks on West successful in 2016 - US govt report
The data compiled in the report showed that 41 of the 100 or so plots masterminded by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) took place on US soil. France was the only other country in double figures, with the terrorists undertaking 20 plots since 2014.
Both the first (in February, 2014) and 100th attack plots (on July 14, 2016) targeted the same location – the resort city of Nice in the south of France. The first one failed, but the 100th was notoriously successful.
“There are now more Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens than at any time in history… ISIL, including its eight established and several more emerging branches, has become the preeminent global terrorist threat…ISIL’s leaders are determined seek to strike the US homeland—beyond inspiring homegrown violent extremist attacks,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.
The attacks are also becoming deadlier. In 2015, a total of 720 people were injured or killed. However, this figure has already been surpassed this year, with 875 casualties so far. This also points to the fact that attacks by IS are becoming better planned.
The report shows that just under a third of attacks last year carried out by IS were successful. However, in 2016, this figure has risen to almost one in two, with 44 percent of the terror group’s assaults successful.
“Unfortunately despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June.
The Department of Homeland Security noted how successful IS has been in managing to recruit people by “crowd-sourcing” its terrorism agenda. The report states that the majority of the plots have been masterminded by individuals who were inspired by IS, rather than those who were actually members of the group.
“This year during Ramadan, ISIS urged supporters around the world to conduct attacks in their homelands, and followers appear to have responded, such as the gunman in the Orlando attack. In a separate instance, a man in France killed a police chief and his wife in their home, citing ISIS’s call for operations during the holy month,” the report stated.
Catching the terrorists is also proving to be difficult as they are using “end-to-end encrypted messaging applications and encryption software” to ensure that their communications are masked.
FBI Director James Comey has already mentioned that his agency is facing a growing number of terrorism cases in which communications devices belonging to suspects cannot be accessed.