US officials report that defections from ISIS are on the rise and continue to mount. Over 3,000 ISIS militants have been killed in the last two months, and some observers claim this is what is causing ISIS defections to mount.
Do Islamic State believe they are losing the war? Defections increase as recruits are finding out ISIS is not what they thought
USA Today reports that “sparsely manned checkpoints” point to a dearth of ISIS activity. Elite fighters are also being instructed to perform mundane duties as U.S. bombings and on-the-ground advances by Kurdish forces continue to strain ISIS and its resources.
Not everybody is convinced that the defections spell good news for the West, though. USA Today reports that ISIS might take extreme measures now that pressure is mounting. One expert warned that ISIS may carry out “spectacular attacks on foreign countries in order to create the perception that it is winning.”
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. Techniques used by the terror group included hostage-taking, detonation of suicide vests, and simultaneous shootings carried out at different locations, according to Business Insider. Some experts believe that ISIS was already suffering from a defections spike at the time of the Paris atrocities and that it carried out the appalling attacks to distract from its losses and pump up its recruit numbers.
Advertising is important to ISIS. Propaganda videos released by ISIS rattle off a list of promises that would capture the attention of the most self-seeking hedonist: wealth, women, religious power, and a sense of righteous glory.
In harsh reality however, grunts that join ISIS are underfed and made to do menial tasks. Those who complain are severely punished, and often executed.
Foreign policy expert Clint Watts says “the group has now peaked: it is losing territory, many of its fighters are dying in battle, defections from [ISIS] ranks continue to increase, recruitment flows are slower and smaller… To sustain its brand and supporting global fan base, the Islamic State needs to show success. If it cannot achieve battlefield victories and broadcast them on social media, then its affiliates and global network need to pick up the slack with terrorist attacks that capture the imagination of mass media.”
Talk of “success,” “recruitment flows,” “affiliates,” a “brand,” and a “global fan base” demonstrates that ISIS has become almost franchise-like — McDonald’s-like — in its structure and in its embrace of modern conveniences and contemporary business practices.
ISIS is also likely to be thinking in terms of costs and profits, and the consequences could potentially be devastating.
“If an extremist group that has seized territory starts to lose it, it will be highly incentivized to turn to terrorist operations that allow for maximizing effects at a lower cost”.
At last count, 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS fighters were active in Iraq and Syria.
Even as defections mount, ISIS have managed to hold onto the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Ramadi. They also hold large portions of Syria.
The Islamic State propelled its recruitment and resourcing over the past three years…through battlefield successes and acquisitions.
Defections of ISIS fighters is a metric that is closely watched by US military personnel and the Obama administration. Most are convinced that defections have thinned the ranks of the militants in Iraq, as well as Syria, in the last month. Officials cite both intelligence reports and drone footage sources.
Some 23,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed since the Syria campaign began in October. According to one Army General:
The Iraq campaign is inflicting maximum pain on the enemy
[Image by Getty Images]