The New York Times reports: Days after the Islamic State called for attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, terrorists targeted sites in France, Tunisia and Kuwait on June 26, leaving a bloody toll on three continents. The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait, but it is unclear if the militants are also responsible for the attack in France.
The group’s declaration of a caliphate, or Islamic state, last June marked the launch of its global strategy, which has resulted in attacks or arrests in more than a dozen countries. ISIS is focused on three parallel tracks:
- inciting regional conflict with attacks in Iraq and Syria;
- building relationships with jihadist groups that can carry out military operations across the Middle East and North Africa;
- and inspiring, and sometimes helping, ISIS sympathizers to conduct attacks in the West.
“The goal,” said Harleen Gambhir, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, “is that through these regional affiliates and through efforts to create chaos in the wider world, the organization will be able to expand, and perhaps incite a global apocalyptic war.”
Beginning last fall, ISIS made repeated calls for attacks on the West, especially to followers in countries taking part in the American-led airstrike campaign in Iraq and Syria. So-called lone wolves have responded to these calls with relatively low-tech assaults — shootings, hostage takings, hit-and-runs — that tend to get a lot of attention.
“Al Qaeda always wanted to do spectacular attacks, but ISIS has reversed it,” said Patrick M. Skinner, a former C.I.A. operations officer now with the Soufan Group. “They don’t do spectacular attacks. They do attacks that generate spectacular reaction.” [Continue reading…]