Nehad Ismail reviews – “A Study of Islamic State Terror Plots in the West” by Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society.
Within days of announcing its ‘Caliphate’, self-appointed ‘Caliph’- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – vowed IS would eventually “conquer Rome”. On 21st September 2014 Daesh spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani urged supporters to “kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French …any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State in any manner or way, however it may be”
This HJS study reveals that 32 Daesh/ISIS-inspired terror plots have been uncovered in 10 countries since the group declared its so-called Caliphate in July 2014. These plots involved 58 individuals from 13 different nationalities. However, only 16% of these people were directly encouraged to take action by Daesh fighters and only 13% of planned attacks were actually carried out. The US was the most important target for ISIS with 12 plots recorded.
This comprehensively detailed study explores the weapons used, targets selected, travel arrangements made, and the training individuals received. It even delves into minute details such as passport problems which prevented three individuals from traveling.
The use of the internet was significant and relevant to 27 of 32 plots involving mainly propaganda and brain-washing of individuals which the study refers to as inspiration and radicalisation. There are fears that activities may increasingly take place in the “dark web”, and it seems certain that IS will continue to act as an inspiration to a small, but significant, number of people in the West.
Beheadings of UK and US hostages shocked the world as did that of dozens of Syrians, Iraqis and Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. IS’s murder of 38 civilians in the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, in June (30 of those killed were British citizens) highlighted the extreme depravity of ISIS.
There is an impressive 8 page summary of statistics and graphs covering such diverse categories as background, gender and age of terrorists, nationality, religious converts, targets , type of weapons used etc.
It is interesting to note that the perpetrator is usually a young Muslim male with a record of past criminal behaviour. More than 25% of the males were converts. The so-called jihadists in the West were self-starters with no terrorist expertise. In various news reports they are referred to as lone-wolves. Profiles of individuals implicated in terror plots are covered in pages 11 to 42
It is clear that IS poses a palpable threat to the West. The study is a warning to security services in Europe and America to be vigilant. However it doesn’t delve into a number of questions: Who is colluding with ISIS? Who is benefiting from its brutal practices? Who is directing operations in Syria and Iraq? Tracing the origins of Daesh/ISIS would help provide the answers.
What is beyond doubt, is that ISIS has helped the Assad regime to survive. It has enabled Iran to get a foothold in Syria and Iraq, and has opened the door for Moscow to intervene militarily in Syria ostensibly to fight ISIS. However, evidence on the ground has shown that Moscow is not interested in attacking ISIS. British intelligence services claim that only 5% of the air strikes attacked the group.
I commend the Henry Jackson Society for publishing such an important study documenting the Islamic State’s plots against the West, and providing us a unique insight into the mentality and methods of the individuals implicated in the plots. It is a comprehensive work that deserves to be a reference for studies on terrorism and ISIS in particular.
The full study can be found here: