New territories?

India, Turkey, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are among the new countries where the Islamic State (IS) terror group has found a footing as its influence has diminished drastically across Iraq and Syria, its territory of origin, according to a leading conflict monitor.

Spearheaded by jihadist leader Abubakr al-Baghdadi, IS has this year regrouped and carried out more activity outside of West Asia than inside it for the first time, according to data released by Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), a US-based conflict monitoring and crisis mapping body.

“The IS greeted its loss of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2018 with expanded global presence in 2019,” said the ACLED report titled Branching Out: Islamic State’s Continued Expansion. “Through the first five months this year, the IS has placed unprecedented emphasis on its global operations… In his first video in five years (after the Sri Lanka Easter bombings in April), Baghdadi focused largely on the group’s activity in South Asia, North, West and Central Asia.”

India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya are the new territories where the IS has sprung up and is active, according to the ACLED report.

The monitor pointed out that nearly 60% of the Islamic State’s activity in 2019 has taken place outside of West Asia – mostly across South Asia and Africa.

In 2018, its activity outside of West Asia was limited to 45%, while it was well below 20% in 2016 and 2017. (Hindustan Times)

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