Friday, September 12, 2014

Global Impact: CIA Expands Size of Islamic State (IS) to 20,000-31,500 Combatants

According to EFE, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has projected the combatant size of the Islamic State (IS) as between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in its ranks, approximately twice the amount estimated in May 2014.

The new total reflects an estimated increase of 10,000 members over recent months “because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate,” the spokesperson said on grounds of anonymity.

More than 15,000 of the total were foreigners who came from more than 80 countries to Syria to join IS, with many coming from Western countries, a CIA source told cable news channel CNN.

It is estimated that more than a hundred Americans have fought with rebel groups, not only with the IS, since the civil war in Syria began three years ago.

So far this year, the number of US citizens fighting in Syria for IS has doubled.

COMMENT: As the IS has grown stronger over the last few months, more foreigners have moved to Syria and Iraq to join the insurgent group, which forced European and US authorities to boost efforts to detain them before leaving their country of origin.

The pressure and urgency to curb the incorporation of European and US nationals in the IS ranks intensified after the jihadist group beheaded two US journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

In order to prevent other Western citizens from joining IS, the United States is carrying out a counter-propaganda campaign called “Think Again, Turn Away” on social media which is used as a recruitment tool by the jihadists.

The CIA made the figures public a day after US President Barrack Obama announced in a televised speech that the United States would step up its military campaign against the IS.

Obama said airstrikes US warplanes are carrying out in Iraq would be extended to Syria and an additional 475 military advisers would be sent to Iraq.

The new data reflects the latest CIA reports which were updated between May and August, a period in which the threat from IS became urgent enough for Obama to intervene in Syria, a step he had been reluctant to take.

Reconnaissance flights over Syria authorized by Obama in late August began Thursday, according to official sources cited by the CNN channel.

Obama made it clear in his speech that he would pursue the IS jihadists “wherever they exist," while emphasizing that ground troops would not be deployed to the region