Two Reasons Why ISIS May Try to Carry Out Terror Attacks This Ramadan
This year, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan occurs May 27 to June 26. For Muslims, this is a time of fasting when they take time to think about the blessings in their life and to be generous with those in need. It is a season of reflecting on God’s provisions and giving to others.
Unfortunately, terrorists believe that if they carry out attacks during Ramadan, they will go straight to heaven. (In Islamic ideology, no one can be certain until the day of judgement whether they are going to paradise or not. They hope that when they are judged by God, their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds.) However, terrorists believe they will immediately enter paradise and receive extra special treatment there for sacrificing their lives in the cause of God. This is why they seek martyrdom. Because of this ideology, there is an increased risk of attack—specifically suicide attacks–during Ramadan.
Last year, during the first few days of Ramadan (June 12), Omar Mateen carried out the brutal attack in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub (In 2016, Ramadan was June 6 to July 5.)
The second reason why I believe there is a heightened risk of attack is because ISIS is hemorrhaging territory in Syria and Iraq. Their losses have been significant. Foreign Policy Magazine estimates the group has lost upwards of 50% of its territory. The terrorists are on the defensive, they’re on the run, and they’re looking to remain viable.
The projection of power via the execution of external terrorist attacks is much easier than executing battlefield victories in Syria and Iraq where a bevy of strange bedfellows has dealt them repeated blows: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Because of this, I assess that ISIS will attempt to offset its losses by carrying out (or inspiring) terrorist attacks this Ramadan. Attacks are carried out by cowards against innocents but it makes the group appear more powerful than they really are.
Terrorist tactics range from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) like the terror attack that just occurred in Manchester, to the use of vehicles to assault pedestrians. We are most vulnerable in areas of large gatherings, so be mindful of your surroundings this Memorial Day weekend. There is no substitute for situational awareness.
If you hear someone talking about their interest in carrying out terrorist attacks or notice persons or activities that seem suspicious (more specifics on that soon), please advise authorities immediately. Keep a watchful eye, but at the same time, let’s not give ISIS the benefit of fearing them. We will not let the terrorists win.