“Gone, but not forgotten,” that’s the present condition of the Caliphate of the Islamic State.
The Caliphate, the geographical, administrative structure of the Islamic State, lasted about four years, from the 2014 takeover of Mosul and surrounding territories of northern and western Iraq to the 2018 expulsion of the last organized remnants of the IS army from Raqqa and tinier villages of the middle Euphrates river valley in Syria.
To many in the United States, encouraged by the unsupported braggadocio of President Trump, that’s the freeze-frame of the Islamic State they remember. The last remnants – defeated and removed, forgettable.
But history doesn’t freeze except in memory, and since those celebrated days, things have kept moving, and so have the fighters of the Islamic State, many of them still active as guerillas in northwest Syria and as true terrorists in Iraq.
But these are men (and a few women) and they can be stopped and killed. The real threat from the Islamic State is not – at least right now – as a fighting force but, in the words of our guest today, RAND Corporation analyst Colin P. Clarke, as an idea, an ideology and a world view. And that threat, as opposed to the IS Caliphate, is “far from over.”
Colin P. Clarke is an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where his research focuses on terrorism, insurgency and criminal networks. At RAND, Clarke has directed studies on ISIS financing, the future of terrorism and transnational crime, and lessons learned from all insurgencies between the end of WWII and 2009.
He is also an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty, and a lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University.
Clarke appears frequently in the media, has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and has published his research in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Politico, Lawfare, and numerous scholarly journals, including Small Wars & Insurgencies, Historical Methods, and Military Operations Research.
Clarke is the author of Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare, published in 2015 by Praeger Security International and is currently working on Terrorism: The Essential Reference Guide, also by Praeger and due to be published in 2018.