ISIS is expanding its international reach. That is hardly a sign of weakness

Hassan Hassan writes: The United Nations’ sanctions monitoring team warned last Tuesday that Libya was emerging as a key stronghold for Islamic State close to the shorelines of Europe.

The warning aligns with assessments by US intelligence officials that the organisation’s franchise is entrenching itself in the midst of chaos in the north African country.

Isis’s expansion outside its heartlands in Iraq and Syria has raised questions about how more than a year of a relentless air campaign has affected it. The group has faced military defeats in north-eastern Iraq and Syria in recent months, but it also carried out large-scale international terror attacks.

More perplexing is that, as Isis faces increased pressure at home, many fighters are reportedly returning to Libya to shore up its franchise there. This has led some western officials to saythe group might be preparing to use the Libyan front as a fallback base in case of a defeat in Iraq and Syria. [Continue reading…]

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