Trump Says the U.S. Has Destroyed ‘100% of ISIS.’ It Hasn’t.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


Near the end of his 10-minute address from the White House, responding to Iran’s missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq, Trump claimed the U.S. had destroyed “100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

The group continues to operate as an underground insurgent movement, commanding the loyalty of perhaps as many as 10,000 fighters across both countries, according to Matthew Henman, the head of Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, a nonpartisan defense information provider headquartered in London.

As it regroups following the loss of its physical caliphate — and the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a raid by U.S. forces in October — ISIS continues to carry out attacks and targeted assassinations of local leaders, seeking to foment chaos and create the conditions necessary for its re-emergence as a territorial entity.

“It hasn’t given up the idea of a territorial caliphate,” said Henman. “The group is in a mindset that ‘we’ve suffered one defeat, but it’s just one battle in the timeless war that will continue’.”

He said the group had also been successful in establishing a decentralized network of affiliates globally — from West Africa to Afghanistan to the Philippines — which had continued to carry out attacks around the world, independently of the central leadership.

Last year alone, ISIS claimed responsibility for mass casualty attacks in Afghanistanthe Philippines, and Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.


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