Conflict

The intelligence war: The next battle against ISIS in Iraq

Iraq

With ISIS military defeated in Iraq, the authorities have turned their attentions to preventing guerrilla warfare, which was called for by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Using cutting-edge technology for information collection, the intelligence services have so far captured a large number of militants planning attacks.

Despite ISIS’ military defeat in Iraq, leaders of the Iraqi Army warn that the war on terror is far from over, with the particular threat from ISIS militants still presenting significant challenges to the country’s securitisation efforts.

The war against ISIS is now primarily a preventive one, with intelligence playing an integral role in tracing the activities of ISIS militants in liberated and desertified parts of Iraq. Recent intelligence operations have resulted in the neutralisation of dozens of militants, while many others have been arrested in developments that have been heralded as testament to the effectiveness of the Iraq’s special intelligence operations.

The leader of ISIS, Ibrahim Awad, better known by his alias Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recently issued a statement encouraging his followers in Iraq to continue fighting to weaken the enemy by attrition, insisting that waging war is more important than winning. ISIS may not have territory left in the country, but the threat is not being taken lightly by Iraqi security services, who have since carried out numerous military operations to identify and destroy ISIS sleeper cells in various parts of the country. Such sleeper cells have been linked to, amongst various other attacks, the systematic burning of many agricultural fields in Iraq during the month of Ramadan this year, especially in the area surrounding Kirkuk.

Iraqi authorities are particularly worried about ISIS’ practice of burning agricultural crops, not only for its impact on local livelihoods and economies, but also its potential to precipitate a guerrilla war in the country. According to one specialist in security affairs, intelligence operations which have recently succeeded in capturing a large number of militants have relied on the sourcing of reliable data, which in turn uses drones and special devices. One such operation took place in Kirkuk this morning, resulting in the arrest of a suspected terrorist in the village of Atshana.

In spite of these successes, it remains clear the the preventive war against ISIS is two-fold, as the country’s ability to defeat the group will no doubt also depend upon its success in eradicating the appeal of its ideology from places that were once living under their rule.