IS in Iraq: Rebuilding like Al-Qaeda on ‘Steroids’


  • There are growing indications that the Islamic State (IS) is re-organizing in Iraq.
  • Kurdish and Western intelligence officials say the group’s presence in Iraq is a sophisticated insurgency.
  • It is feared the attacks from IS would become much more aggressive by 2020.

IS militants are now more dangerous and well-loaded with weapons and cash. This is according to the top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, Lahur Talabany (Pictured).

Speaking to the media, Lahur Talabany stated, “They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal…they are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies, and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like al-Qaeda on steroids.”

The chief of the Kurdish intelligence painted the picture of an organization that had spent the last year rebuilding itself from the ruins of the caliphate, at the hills of the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.

Mr. Talabany, who heads the Zanyari Agency, which is one of two intelligence agencies in Iraqi Kurdistan went ahead to claim that, “We see the activities are increasing now, and we think the rebuilding phase is over.” Just like their predecessors – the Al-Qaeda, the new militants have also gone underground, and it seems like they do not wish to control a particular region, as a measure to avoid being a target.

“If we have political unrest,” he warned, “this is Heaven or Christmas come early for ISIS.” This is as a result of the current unrest in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The Kurdish intelligence officials have estimated that IS is 10,000 strong in Iraq, having approximately 5,000 fighters and a similar number of sleeper cells and sympathizers.

So what implications does this have on the international community? According to Lahur Talabany, “The more comfortable they get here,” he says, “the more they will think about operations outside of Iraq and Syria.”

“I can compare 2019 with 2012, ” he said, “when they were beginning, organizing themselves, and getting taxes from the people. If the situation continues as it is, in 2020 they will reorganize themselves more, be more powerful and carry out more attacks.”

The extremists are confined to the shadows, for now – only emerging at night to carry out hit-and-run attacks. However, Iraq has seen terror grow from these beginnings before, and some fear a new threat is coming, not only for the region but also for the West.



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