US President claims Islamic State is being defeated – or is it just spreading its attacks on Christians more widely?

President Obama last week claimed that Islamic State (IS) is “inevitably going to be defeated”. He pointed out that two years ago IS was making gains and threatening Baghdad, whilst now it is losing territory.

Although Islamic State has in the last year lost large amounts of territory, including the strategically important Iraqi city of Fallujah, this does not mean Islamic State, let alone jihadist violence in general, is being defeated. A few weeks ago the US Director of National Intelligence told a public hearing on Capitol Hill:

“The capacity of the Islamic State, of ISIS, to execute global attacks has not been diminished at all.”
“In my 30+ [year] career as an intelligence professional, I have never seen the world as unstable as it is today.”
The Global Terrorism Index shows that the number of deaths from terrorism worldwide rose from 3,329 in the year before 9/11 to 32,658 in 2014, the last year for which full statistics have so far been compiled. The figure is almost certainly higher now as the 2014 figure was itself an 80 percent increase on the previous year.

Until now the killings have been relatively concentrated with around four out of every five people killed being in one of five countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, all of which are of course subject to jihadist violence. However, not only has Boko Haram spread from Nigeria to the surrounding countries, but also Islamic State has actively been seeking to establish what they term “Waliyats” (i.e. provinces under their control) in at least 18 countries. They have also begun encouraging potential jihadists not to travel to Syria but to stay in the West and carry out attacks there. They have also made clear in the latest issue of their English-language magazine Dabiq that they now regard churches as a particular target. That is of course simply stating that, just as IS and other jihadists have repeatedly attacked churches in the Middle East over the last decade, so they now plan to globalise such attacks.

It is probably inevitable that three months before a US presidential election politicians from each party will make competing claims on the fight against IS. However, we would wish to state publicly that we see no evidence that the intent of groups such as IS to persecute Christians and other non-Muslim minorities with executions, enslavement, enforcement of dhimmi status and religious cleansing is in any sense lessening.

Rather what we have seen over the last two years is: firstly, an ongoing genocide of Christians that the world media and governments appear to be growing increasingly deaf to hearing; secondly, the deliberate targeting of Christians outside of Syria/Iraq by Islamic State, such as the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya last January and the similar execution of 30 Ethiopian Christians there two months later. Tragically, Western governments still appear to be ignoring the widening geographical extent of these attacks and naively assume that Christian refugees from Syria are “safe” in the surrounding countries.

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