The Islamic State might have been defeated in the Middle East, but it remains a political project, expert says. "Lone wolves" are the "most dangerous form of terrorist activity to date". A new approach is needed to defeat Islamist propaganda.
Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After its defeat in the Middle East, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will try to set up a surrogate caliphate in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir, pumping out its propaganda to attract thousands of young Sunni Muslims, this according to Andrei Serenko, a scholar at the Centre for the Study of Modern Afghanistan, in an interview with Fergana News released yesterday.
For the political scientist, a new approach is needed to defeat the Islamic State and its "postmodern subculture". Given its military defeats, “we can talk about the liquidation of the ISIS project in the form in which it existed in 2014-2016”, but not “as a political project”.
“In Afghanistan, ISIS will try to build a surrogate caliphate, instead of the one lost in Iraq and Syria, relying on two unique resources – huge income from the drug business and local youth.”
“Three-quarters of the population of Afghanistan are young people under the age of 30,” and “According to the most conservative estimates, terrorist organisations in Afghanistan receive more than $ 200 million a year from the sale of heroin.”
What is more, at present, the "most dangerous form of terrorist activity to date" is the lone wolf inspired by ISIS propaganda. For Serenko, attacks by single individuals have greater political resonance, and for this reason ISIS encourages its supporters in Russia, the United States and the European Union to stay at home to prepare local individual attacks.
Ultimately, ISIS “is more than an ordinary criminal group or a militant religious sect” for it creates “vivid and attractive patterns for mass consciousness and behaviour”, and this especially attracts young people.
To defeat its propaganda, a new approach is needed that takes into account the "cultural" aspect, one that is not based exclusively on the arguments and institutions from the old "moderate" Islam, which have proven ineffective.
Indeed, “Hoping that our grey-haired and respectable imams – who do not understand how the computer turns on – can overcome the postmodern subculture of IS based on digital technologies and new means of communication is like treating AIDS with aspirin.”