As Thought Front has discussed before, the Islamic State has been losing substantial amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria, and the increase in terrorist attacks outside of their territory is likely an attempt on its part to give the impression it is strong – a tactic that appears to be working given the public discourse, and based on my Facebook friends’ posts.
But on the ground, the self-proclaimed caliphate is shrinking, including the major loss of control of Fallujah in June, and likely the loss of Mosul soon.
So whereas Islamic State can make itself look strong to people not paying attention to “that part of the world,” it cannot do the same with people in Iraq and Syria, including within its own ranks.
And it turns out that, in its territory, ISIS is acknowledging that it is losing. As uncovered by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, the group has been circulating a series of propaganda leaflets entitled “Stories of the Mujahideen” that feature short biographies of those who have died in the service of Islam. According to an explanatory document accompanying the series, the stories are primarily meant to serve as inspirational material to strengthen the resolve of fighters.
Within the explanation is this sentence:
For however strong the trials and tribulations become, and however much the force of kufr [non-believers] intensifies and the Islamic State retreats in the fields of the land, it [Islamic State] began from nothingness on the land, and its reliance has been fear of God and His victory.
The document actually refers to ISIS as retreating and the opposition forces intensifying. Nevertheless, it insists that they are the little paramilitary that could who will prevail in the end.
Neither these leaflets nor the accompanying document made their way into any Internet propaganda, perhaps because ISIS does not want an acknowledgement of losing to be circulated all over the world.
However, we see yet again evidence that Islamic State is losing, no matter what the mainstream perception may be.