The recent wave of horrific terrorist attacks across the globe, from Orlando to Istanbul to Nice, serves as a harsh reminder that the war on terror is far from over, despite the success of US-led efforts to roll back the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
There have now been over 100 ISIS-linked terror plots against the West since 2014, with 40 percent directed at the United States or US citizens overseas, according to a report released today by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).
The 15-page report, Terror Gone Viral, revealed an alarmingly high success rate in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS. In 2016, terrorist operatives managed to pull off 44 percent of their attempted plots, compared to 31 percent last year.
“ISIS terrorists have reached an alarming and horrific milestone, continuing their unprecedented pace of global terror,” said McCaul. “Never before have we seen so many jihadist plots against the West in such a short period of time. What’s worse, our communities have now become the battleground, and our enemies are hiding in plain sight.”
ISIS has remotely radicalized operatives to carry out attacks, including right here in the homeland, and they are increasingly dispatching their own operatives for deadlier and more complex plots.
ISIS-linked attacks are increasing not only in number, but also in destructiveness. There have now been more than 1,600 casualties from anti-Western attacks.
The majority of the attacks have been orchestrated by individuals inspired by ISIS, rather than directed enlisted by the terrorist organization, demonstrating the success of ISIS’s propaganda efforts. Omar Mateen, the shooter at the Orlando massacre, as well as the man in France who killed a police chief and his wife in their home, are just two out of many recent examples of individuals inspired by ISIS to conduct attacks.
While there have been a large number of lone-wolf incidents, ISIS has also been increasingly involved in directing plots. So far in 2016, 47 percent of ISIS-linked plots were likely directed by the group, compared to 53 percent inspired. This represents a marked increase from 2015, which saw 35 percent of plots directed and 65 percent inspired.
Several of plots once believed to be inspired, are now known to have been directed. For example, the individual who went on a shooting rampage on a train from Amsterdam to Paris last year was initially believed to have acted alone, but investigators now say he was in touch with a top ISIS plotter, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
The report also revealed that foreign fighters are playing a growing role in operations, more and more plots involve explosive devices, and 40 percent of plots have been aimed at government, military, and law enforcement targets.
Due to the alarming findings of the report, McCaul urged immediate US action to combat ISIS’s increasing capabilities and global reach. Terrorist propaganda has infiltrated communities across the globe, including American homes.
Given the pervasiveness of the terrorist message, the Middle East alone cannot be the only battlefront—the United States must also counter radical Islam here at home, and we need to act now.
“This is the consequence of our failure to take the fight to the enemy overseas,” said McCaul. “And it should be a wake-up call that we need to get serious about destroying ISIS—not eventually, but immediately.”