And a final catch-up piece, this time a chapter in a report colleagues (Liz and Jonathan) at RUSI pulled together looking at the UK government’s response to the threat from ISIS. The whole thing is available here for free, but I have pasted the first few paragraphs here to give you a flavour.
ISIS has rapidly moved from being a group seen merely as an affiliate or offshoot of Al-Qa’ida to being recognised as one of the principal international terrorist threats faced by the UK. The threat comprises various strands: the number of British citizens travelling to fight alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the possibility that they may return with the intent of undertaking an attack on British soil; possible attacks on UK territory by individuals who have not fought abroad but who are nevertheless inspired or facilitated by ISIS; and the possibility of attacks on British interests and citizens abroad.
It is true that ISIS remains part of a larger threat picture, and care needs to be taken to avoid exaggerating the domestic threat posed by the group, which would only serve to inflate its importance while potentially distracting the UK from other menaces both on and off the battlefield. Indeed, British citizens are travelling to the Middle East to fight not only with ISIS, but also with groups such as Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Qa’ida’s principal affiliate on the battlefield in Syria. Nevertheless, the threat posed by ISIS, at home and abroad, remains a serious one that the UK must persist in addressing.
The picture is complicated as it remains unclear whether ISIS – or any of its affiliates in Africa or Asia – has taken a strategic decision, at a senior level, to launch a large-scale campaign of terrorism outside its immediate territory (in contrast to the wave of more loosely linked incidents witnessed so far). Currently, those plots already disrupted in the UK have demonstrated a confused link to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. Nevertheless, given the reach of ISIS via the Internet and the large numbers travelling to join its ranks, the problem remains a substantial one. Bolstering agency capacity and building community resilience will help to some degree, but the threat will only be eradicated once stemmed at source.
This chapter outlines the nature of the current threat posed by ISIS before exploring the response by the UK’s police and security agencies, which involves disrupting the plans of both would-be attackers and aspiring travellers alike. It will conclude by offering some ideas about how to counter the particular threat that the UK faces from ISIS at home.