Just the Beginning

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Over the course of the last 18 months, since ISIS burst on to the scene with its dramatic regional tactical advances, capturing Mosul in Iraq and significant territory in Syria, it has maintained that its primary focus was on expanding its Islamic State, or Caliphate, in the Middle East and focusing on its “near enemies.” Nevertheless, during this time period, partially inspired by ISIS’ regional gains, foreign fighters from around the world have flocked to Syria to join the Islamic State’s project to rebuild a 7th century utopia and fight regional enemies like the Shiite government in Baghdad and the brutal Assad dictatorship in Syria.  

With thousands of radicalized Westerners from France, the U.K., Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, and the U.S. receiving paramilitary training and battlefield experience in Syria and Iraq, there has been little doubt among counterterrorism experts that ISIS had the capability to carry out attacks in the West by sending these individuals with European passports back to their countries of origin.  However, for some reason, ISIS maintained its focus on regional aims, only applauding lone wolf attacks that were carried out in their name in Sydney, Ottawa, Brussels, and Paris.

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