by Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci
as published in the Hill
After announcing the defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Iraq’s armed forces held celebratory parades in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, last December. Yet, in the last two months alone, ISIS operatives have claimed responsibility for two major sleeper cell orchestrated terrorist attacks in Baghdad and near Kirkuk,the latter in which ISIS attackers had the audacity to appear in an ambush dressed in Iraqi military uniforms. Even before the liberation of Iraq from ISIS, the task of completely rooting ISIS sympathizers and sleeper cell members proved difficult in the eastern part of Mosul and Kirkuk.
Attacks such as these point out to several worrisome trends. ISIS leadership may continue to operate under the radar, given that generally they are responsible for passing down directives from the top and coordinating sleeper cell activities. This may also indicate that ISIS cells have formed and are determined to act on behalf of the group on their own — also a worrisome possibility. Likewise, ISIS continues to enjoy the support of local accomplices, which is necessary to enhance security procedures, obtain vital background information, and generate appropriate conditions to plan for both ongoing and future operations. This may also be an indication of enduring connections in terms of securing sympathies and ideological allies in the country.
The attacks also indicate the existence of battle-hardened terrorists inside Iraq who have managed to … (read the rest of the article here.)
About the Authors:
Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She has interviewed over 600 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past two years, she and ICSVE staff have been collecting interviews with ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS, as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews. She has been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and consulting on how to rehabilitate them. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. She is a sought after counterterrorism experts and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA and FBI and CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. She regularly speaks and publishes on the topics of the psychology of radicalization and terrorism and is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Her publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhardWebsite: and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard
Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D. – is the Director of Research and a Senior Research Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He has been collecting interviews with ISIS defectors and studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism as well as training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally. He has conducted CVE-related fieldwork in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Middle East, mostly recently in Jordan and Iraq. He holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security Policy, from Walden University. He obtained his M.A. degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and a B.A. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Dominican University. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Nichols College teaching undergraduate and graduate-level counterterrorism and cybersecurity courses.
Reference for this article: Speckhard, Anne and Shajkovci, Ardian (March 11, 2018) Will ISIS Live on in Iraq The Hill