Two years after losing the last of their territory in Iraq, notorious militant group ISIS is reorganizing to become an “Al Qaeda on steroids” with “better techniques” and “a lot more money,” intelligence officials warned this week.
The group has been acquiring vehicles and weapons as well as food and equipment for its fighters, and it now has more technological know-how, Kurdish and Western intelligence officials said.
Top Kurdish counter-terrorism official Lahur Talabany told BBC News: “They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal. They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out.”
Talabany, who works with the Zanyari Agency, added: “They are like Al Qaeda on steroids. We see the activities are increasing now, and we think the rebuilding phase is over.”
Speaking from Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq, he described how the notoriously sadistic group that came to power during the Obama presidency has spent 2019 in the mountains rebuilding from the ruins of the caliphate.
Kurdish intelligence officials believe ISIS has 10,000 members in Iraq with up to 5,000 fighters, and fear they are being encouraged by current instability against the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
Brigadier General William Seely, Commander of Task Force-Iraq, told the BBC the forces are better prepared than in 2014 when ISIS gained control of a third of Iraq.
He said: “The ISF (Iraqi security forces) and the Peshmerga are not the same forces as when Mosul fell. We have been here adding to their training.”
It comes amid claims extremists are holding sharia trials in UK jails, with a prisoner accused of disrespecting Islam by drinking alcohol given a punishment beating.