ISLAMABAD: Terrorism expert Prof Max Abrahms believes that the so-called Islamic State (IS) group is unlikely to survive long because of inherent flaws in its strategy.

Mr Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was delivering a lecture via a video link at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘South Asia’s geo-strategic conundrum: a new theatre for ISIS’.

The discussion was held in the context of Easter Day bombing in Sri Lanka by the terrorist group and its announcement regarding setting up of Kashmir-based ‘Vilay-i-Hind’.

“It is a desperate group trying to change the narrative about itself that it has been defeated,” the professor said about the Sri Lanka attacks carried out by the group.

“All militant groups persuade their audience that they are more successful than the others and IS is doing the same thing by claiming presence in newer areas,” he said.

The professor said its raison d’être was to set up a caliphate but it failed to do so. The group has imploded because of pursuing a flawed strategy as it lacked centralised leadership, wasn’t smart in target selection, and did not disassociate itself from the brutal attacks on ordinary people. Resultantly, the world turned against it, he added.

Prof Abrahms would, however, not agree that IS had been defeated.

“Its capability is much lower although it may not have been defeated,” he said.

Security analyst and director Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Amir Rana agreed with Prof Abrahms’ assessment that the terrorist group’s faulty strategy resulted in its defeat in Middle East.

He, however, said the terrorist group may do few new things to inspire likeminded individuals and groups and revive itself.

“Daesh may seek to regroup and review its strategy and ideological and political paradigm to make its narrative attract other extremists. This is expected in coming days,” he said.

“New ideological inspiration can attract militant groups,” the expert said and recalled how it had collaborated with Lashkar-i-Jhangvi to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

Mr Rana said the potency of the group may have declined and it may not be in a position to hold territory but could still continue to pose a dilemma for law enforcement agencies.

Executive Director Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) retired ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi said Daesh threat may not balloon into huge presence but would continue to have enough capacity to cause havoc.

IPI Executive Director Prof Sajjad Bokhari said recent developments in which Daesh looked to be on the retreat in Middle East created a sense of hope that finally the world may get rid of these enemies of humanity, who misuse the name of Islam for their gruesome acts.

“But, the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were a rude awakening for all of us that the terrorist group, whom we believed to be close to annihilation, was looking at greater presence in our region,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019

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