The Islamic State, a terrorist organization that once ran a fiefdom across the heart of the Middle East as large as the United Kingdom, is now a largely decentralized and homeless movement of ideologies, criminals, and social misfits. In the 10 months since ISIS lost control of the last sliver of its caliphate in the plains of Eastern Syria, its fighters have transformed into a band of insurgents taking potshots at Iraqi and Syrian government troops and associated militias.
ISIS may be down but it’s not out. The Iraqi-Syrian border remains highly porous, which provides the militants with the space to move back and forth with relative ease. The group continues to recruit, even if their social media presence is a far cry from the past. As Mike Giglio and Kathy Gilsinan wrote in the Atlantic, “Even after America spent billions of dollars during two presidencies to defeat ISIS, deployed troops across Iraq and Syria, and dropped thousands of bombs, ISIS persists.”