The Threat of ISIS to the UK: RUSI Threat Assessment

Posted: October 12, 2014 in Royal United Services Institute
Tags: , , ,

Somewhat belated posting of a brief report I co-authored with RUSI colleague Clare Ellis looking at the threat of ISIS to the UK, and more broadly providing some comment on the threat from the group and what might be done to deal with it. Follow the links to read the whole piece. I also spoke to the Washington Post about Anjem Choudhry, Billboard about jihadi rap, the Daily Mail about the plot disrupted in London, and RIA Novosti about Syria and ISIS. Separately, I spoke to Eurasianet about the recent SCO Summit and the possibility that Pakistan might join the organization. Just finished a rather long regional trip, so more coming out on that topic soon.

The Threat of ISIS to the UK: RUSI Threat Assessment

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is well financed, well equipped and brutal. It is also a plausible threat to the UK.

Download the briefing here (PDF)

The group operates across large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, where the sustained conflicts continue to attract large numbers of foreign fighters. Official estimates suggest the total travelling to the region has now exceeded 15,000, including 500 from the UK. It is unclear what proportion has joined ISIS, though it is understood that a majority of these UK citizens have joined its ranks. This briefing argues that it is this community of foreign fighters that poses an immediate terrorist threat to the West.

As the UK joins the coalition against this increasingly dominant jihadist force, understanding the scale of the threat and the complexity of the challenge is crucial. This briefing analyses four key questions:

  • What is the group’s current narrative and interest?
  • How is this narrative being heard in the UK?
  • What would change to make ISIS refocus from its regional concentration
    to a global one?
  • How might a new ‘awakening’ movement be stimulated in Iraq?

This briefing provides an objective view on ISIS and some judgements about its current threat trajectory. It draws on a series of discussions held at RUSI, which involved internal and external expertise, to come to some key judgements on the group.

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