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The Islamic State continues to expand in the Middle East, and its rate of growth is significant, according to reports.
USA Today contributor John McLaughlin points to reports from U.S. officials three months ago that suggested ISIS was attracting 1,000 new militants each month.
“There is no sign that this has let up,” McLaughlin writes.
A senior intelligence official said earlier this month that ISIS is now about 20,000 foreign fighters strong — composed of 90 different nationalities. McLaughlin says the U.S. estimate six months ago was about 14,000.
An anti-Islamic State coalition will begin training local fighters next month, but McLaughlin says it won’t be near the size of its opponent. Also, he notes, ISIS “wannabes of varying strength” are popping up in Egypt, Afghanistan, Algeria and Libya.
Terrorism in the IS age is becoming a dangerous “network of networks.” And those connections create a complex web of powerful capabilities for recruitment, training, and logistics.
McLaughlin claims ISIS boasts components that are more diverse and powerful than al-Qaida ever presented.
The writer says the first step to crippling ISIS would be to retake Mosul, Iraq, which would show others that the terror network isn’t as powerful as it claims.
The next step would be to alleviate the threat to Syria’s “large and abused” Sunni population, McLaughlin writes.
This is essential to undercut the most important engine of IS recruitment.
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