The Islamic State conducted 1,034 suicide attacks in 2016 according to Amaq News Agency, but the staggering figure is hardly a victory for the terrorist organization.
Amaq, which serves as a primary ISIS media outlet, published an info graphic claiming that all of the attacks occurred in the last 11 months. While the statistic is highly dubious, the group has drastically increased its use of suicide bombers in the last year as the U.S.-backed Operation Inherent Resolve continues to rout the so-called caliphate. So, while ISIS may tout its high number of suicide attacks, the strategic landscape appears desperate for Islamist dreamers.
“Many of the Islamic State’s suicide bombings are defensive in nature, meaning that a large number of ‘martyrs’ are being deployed as the caliphate’s grip on territory slips,” said Tom Joscelyn, the senior editor of the Long War Journal and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in a post Tuesday.
Both of the caliphate’s major capitals are currently under siege, with Iraqi forces currently retaking Mosul while Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) focus on seizing Raqqa. Desperately outnumbered and outgunned, ISIS forces in both cities are deploying suicide bombers in record numbers as a last ditch effort to hold what remains of their territory.
— Amarnath Amarasingam (@AmarAmarasingam) December 7, 2016
Suicide bombings globally are on the rise. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) reported that a total of 906 suicide attacks occurred in 2015, a sharp increase from the 739 reported in 2014. If Amaq’s claims are accurate, it would mean ISIS set a new record all by itself in the past year. While it is difficult to corroborate Amaq’s figures, it is likely that suicide attacks globally and within ISIS increased in 2016 given the current trend and ISIS’s increasingly desperate situation.
“Still, there is no question that the Islamic State is relying on suicide bombers at a remarkable pace,” wrote Joscelyn. “And if Amaq’s data are accurate, then November saw more suicide bombings by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s operation (132) than in any previous month this year.”
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