By Brigitte L. Nacos
During this year’s campaign, Donald Trump said repeatedly that he knows more about ISIS than the generals and, therefore, as president will defeat the organization very quickly. Recently, in Florida, he warned his supporters, if Hillary Clinton wins, ISIS will take over this country.
No, ISIS is not coming to take over our country.
Actually, ISIS is in trouble and forced to adjust its strategies and tactics. The military pressure reduced significantly the number of its leaders, rank and file jihadists, ISIS-held territory, and resources.
There are several indications of the group’s predicament and its consequences.
First, ISIS’s strategy includes now the recruitment of female jihadists, mostly, because they are less suspect than their male counterparts. The switch resulted in a remarkable increase in females involved in actual or planned attacks. Thus, in early October, police in Morocco arrested 10 female ISIS recruits for allegedly planning suicide bombings. Earlier, French police arrested members of a female ISIS cell for allegedly planning two bombing attacks in Paris. One member of the group stabbed and injured a policeman outside of Paris. Investigators found also two women linked to the perpetrator of the lethal July attack in Nice.
According to an ISIS manifesto, taking care of house, husband, and children are the fundamental functions of devout Muslim women. However, in extraordinary circumstances, when there are not enough men to fight the enemy or “if the men are absent even they are present,” women are called upon to participate, to fight in the jihad. ISIS’s green light for female jihadist might also suggest that there is a shortage of male jihadists--that in the manifesto’s words, the men are absent even though they are present.
Second, according to a recent study at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, the media output of ISIS declined measurably “in response to the increasing amount of counterterrorism pressure brought to bear against the organization.” A case in point was the folding of ISIS’s glossy and comprehensive online magazine Dabiq after 15 issues. The name Dabiq was chosen to highlight the importance of the town Dabiq in Northern Syria, where ISIS was going to fight the apocalyptic last battle between faithful Muslims and infidels. Obviously foreseeing the loss of Dabiq that ISIS conquered in the summer of 2014, the magazine of the same name was discontinued and was replaced by the less ambitious Rumiyah. The first two issues of the new e-magazine contain about half the number of pages than those of its predecessor.