In recent months, American politicians have presented the public with a constant barrage of statements about various Islamic State (ISIS) strongholds in Iraq and Syria falling in their hands one after another. One can recall that last year the so-called Islamic State lost both of its capitals: the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the Syrian city of al-Raqqah. In fact the above mentioned radical Wahhabi formation has already lost all of its territorial claims in the Levant. The speed with which ISIS has been surrendering its territories may lead a casual observer to the conclusion that its militants have simply vanished in the dim morning mist.
It’s worth mentioning that as early as 2016, ISIS warlords began arriving in Libya from both Syria and Iraq to assess the dire situation this country was in, with it virtually unchanged since the toppling of Muammar Qadaffi. The rationale behind their decision to move the better part of their assets to Libya is rather simple, since there’s been no real government to speak for seven years. The Western media has suggested that ISIS militants would likely ravage Libya if pushed out of Iraq and Syria.
At the same time, there’s been quite a few reports about ISIS operations being carried out in Afghanistan with rapidly increasing frequency. At the senior levels of leadership within the terrorist organization, orders to begin a campaign of asymmetric warfare have been made in the event that ISIS suffers catastrophic defeat on the battlefield.
Before such a campaign can begin, however, ISIS sympathizers must reach distant regions in both Syria and Iraq to begin forming partisan detachments there.
Additionally, ISIS militants were supposed to disperse themselves inconspicuously among local populations, creating sleeper cells in order to resume hostilities when “the time is right”.
It is possible for fleeing ISIS militants to also escape the region entirely – to Central Asia or Europe under the cover of refugee status, creating similar sleeper cells abroad and creating an enduring security threat as seen in Europe.
We have also heard that many ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria have died in battle or were executed, that some surrendered, and some taken prisoner. But what is disturbing is that there’s no exact figures whatsoever. The only thing one can state with certainty is that the absolute majority of them have managed to escape retribution. So, where are they now?
Mind you that four years ago the CIA would announce that there were approximately 50,000 ISIS militants operating in Iraq and Syria. Other governmental bodies would state figures twice as high. As for local Kurdish leaders, they have claimed the number was as high as 200,000.
According to a report issued by the Iraqi military in August 2017, there was at least 30,000 foreign mercenaries fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq, including 8,000 Europeans and 6,000 Tunisians. Allegedly, some 28,000 were killed.
In December 2016, the Pentagon would announce the figure of 50,000 ISIS fighters killed in Iraq and Syria over a two year period. Next year it would announce than 40,000 foreign mercenaries were neutralized in Syria alone.
Of course, none of the above mentioned figures can be verified, however it is clear that the casualties that ISIS allegedly suffered are greatly exaggerated. After all, without those nonexistent deceased militants being counted in the tens of thousands, Washington would have no justification for its ongoing presence in Iraq and Syria, as its contribution to the actual fight against terrorism is negligible. It is also worth asking that if such a large number of militants have been killed, why hasn’t evidence regarding mass graves turned up?
In addition, we must not forget that thousands of people who were captured by ISIS militants are still reported as missing. Their relatives are trying to establish their fate, assuming they escaped custody after ISIS’ defeat in Iraq and Syria. Therefore, even if some graves are to be found in the cities that were occupied in Syria and Iraq, it is most likely that those would be the graves of the hostages taken for slave labor by ISIS, since it is unlikely that those militants would try to transport them to other regions of the world.
The EU Coordinator for Combating Terrorism, Giles de Kerchove, announced last August that some 5,000 European militants were trained in Syria and Iraq, and that a third of them returned home. If this statement is true, have European security services identified them, especially considering only 1% of those who returned home were immediately arrested upon arrival?
It turns out that ISIS militants who have escaped death and remain at large are now fighting Syrian armed forces in a bid to destroy Syria. Somehow American officials are always able to find a common language with terrorists when it suits their interests.
The mystery of the “disappearing” militants is solved as Syrian SANA news agency reported on yet another “CIA operation”, filming Western military helicopters coming to rescue ISIS militants they were supposed to be fighting. In broad daylight the US-led coalition aircraft were seen evacuating their sworn enemies, which was later confirmed by the British BBC. A month earlier, the British reported that more than 250 field commanders and 3,500 members of their families were evacuated from liberated al-Raqqa to the north of the country by the same US-led coalition. From there, some militants were able to travel across the border to Turkey or disappear by blending into local populations.
And here the truth of pro-Western “freedom fighters” is exposed. Their cause shifts with the whims of its foreign sponsors, and when sponsorship is no longer feasible, the narrative collapses completely, exposing them as the mercenaries and terrorists they were from the beginning. And despite this fact, the US and its partners are still attempting to salvage them for future use.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”