by Candice Malcolm
April 27, 2016
Global jihadists continue to terrorize the world with deadly attacks and barbaric executions.
The latest tragic victim to a Daesh-affiliated group was one of our own — a former Canadian mining executive and journalist who was kidnapped from a resort in the Philippines, held hostage for months, and finally executed after Canada refused to pay ransom to his terrorist captors.
Daesh, or the Islamic State, remains the greatest threat to global security.
According to U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Daesh “has become the preeminent terrorist threat because of its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, its branches and emerging branches in other countries, and its increasing ability to direct and inspire attacks against a wide range of targets around the world.”
But as Daesh continues to terrorize and murder, there are signs it is losing ground in Syria and Iraq.
The U.S.-led coalition has heavily stepped up its offensive this month, adding 250 special forces to the mission and ramping up pressure on the terrorist haven.
It is targeting the group’s finances, striking stores where Daesh hides its cash and has reportedly destroyed the equivalent of up to one billion Canadian dollars in recent days.
The coalition is also launching cyber attacks, hitting the terrorists where they are strong, disrupting Daesh’s online communications and disturbing its ability to run slick propaganda campaigns.
This offensive — which no longer includes Canada — is working.
According to Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, U.S. Deputy Commander for Operations and Intelligence based in Baghdad, the number of foreign fighters joining Daesh has slowed considerably.
A year ago, there were as many as 2,000 foreigners arriving in Iraq and Syria each month. Today, that number has fallen to around 200.
“We’re seeing an increase in desertion rates of fighters … we’re seeing a fracture in their morale,” said Gersten.
He described how Daesh’s agents are trying to escape the group, dressing up as women and posing as refugees in order to flee.
But these gains in Iraq and Syria may lead to a new set of problems for the West.
As the group falters in its own territory, Daesh may try to distract from its losses and prove it’s still a threat.
This increases the risk of an attack on civilians in the West, particularly in Europe where Daesh has thousands of operatives and cells.
It only takes a handful of terrorists to pull off a gruesome massacre.
The second equally menacing concern is the reverse flow of foreign fighters.
There are as many as 31,000 foreign fighters from nearly 100 countries who have gone to fight for Daesh in Iraq and Syria, including more than 10,000 from Europe.
CSIS recently reported that about 180 Canadians are fighting with terrorist groups, including about 100 in Iraq and Syria.
Another 60 jihadists are already back in Canada.
Are we equipped to deal with the return of these foreign fighters?
What will Canada do with these radicals if and when they come home?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told us “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”.
Will he be up to the challenge of handling murderers and jihadists who may be on their way back to Canada?
We will soon find out whether Trudeau is more committed to his hug-a-terrorist philosophy, or to Canada’s national security.