By Sal Bommarito
Because of its complete disregard for human rights, Arabs and non-Arabs around the world despise ISIS. Culminating with the beheadings of three non-combatants, the atrocities committed by these terrorists have disgusted civilized people across the globe. It appears that no deed is too horrible for ISIS; and no nation is safe.
When ISIS succumbs to the impending onslaught of American air power, how will it react? Will the violence taper off rapidly, or will ISIS choose to go down in a blaze of glory. This essay will explore some of these dire possibilities.
First and foremost, any persons being held captive by ISIS will be in grave danger when the group recognizes that the end is close. It is unknown how many prisoners have been taken, but in its final moments ISIS will likely opt to kill all prisoners and slaughter thousands more in populated areas regardless of their religion or race.
If ISIS captures coalition soldiers including Iraqi and Syrian government and militia fighters, it will show no mercy towards them. Presumably, these poor souls would be executed immediately.
The most valuable physical assets in Iraq are its oil facilities. ISIS fighters may sabotage these installations and create a significant oil shortage. The cost of repairing such destruction could ultimately cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Iraqi soldiers blew up oil fields as they retreated in the first war.
If ISIS could somehow obtain a dirty bomb, a small nuclear device and/or a chemical agent from another terrorist group with its vast cash resources, it might use it in a highly populated area.
Another contingency that has been discussed frequently is the potential of ISIS’ newly recruited fighters from the west returning to their homelands and creating havoc. It would not be difficult for these individuals to build unsophisticated bombs and detonate them killing innocents thousands of miles from the killing fields in Iraq and Syria.
A tactic that would hurt Iraq and Syria long-term would be the calculated assassination of local leaders in the areas that are currently occupied. A dearth of leadership moving forward would make it difficult for these countries to recover politically after hostilities ended.
ISIS may already be planning to export terror to other places in the Middle East and beyond. Americans always think they are the next on every terrorist’s list of targets. But, countries neighboring the killing zone might also be targets. Indiscriminate bombings are a potential problem that all should be concerned with.
Philosophically, the successes of ISIS even if it is ultimately destroyed could serve as an inspiration to other groups who feel disenfranchised or oppressed. This is not to say that change is anathema. Rather, the oppressed might opt for violent opposition rather than peaceful reform.
And finally, terrorists around the world are now recognizing the power of social media. It enables large groups to organize quickly. We can only hope that these assemblies of people are seeking peaceful ways to make changes.
ISIS is a phenomenon that was allowed to blossom because of inaction on the part of many. If this terrorist threat had been addressed earlier, it would not have reached epic levels. It will take years to undo everything that ISIS has done, even though it took only months for the terrorists to prove their mettle.