IS spreading its terror wings beyond Iraq, Syria

ANI | Updated: Feb 25, 2018 04:17 IST

London [UK], Feb 25 (ANI): They may have laid a path of terror and destruction in Iraq and Syria, but the dreaded Islamic State (IS) group has spread its wings beyond these terror-ravaged countries to the unlikeliest places on Earth.

Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, the terror group has carried out or inspired more than 140 terror attacks in 29 countries outside Iraq and Syria till 2017, The Sun reported.

In Europe, the IS have claimed a number of attacks in cities such as- London, Barcelona, Manchester, Paris, Nice and Stockholm to name a few.

Their latest recruitment grounds include honeymoon isles and expat enclaves including New Zealand and South Africa.

Here are some of the other countries the dreaded terror group has formed an unlikely foothold:

1. China

The IS sees China as its next major global target after reportedly securing a recruiting foothold in the country's badlands.

In a recent video, the group pledged to "shed blood like rivers" in attacks against Chinese targets.

"We are the soldiers of the Caliphate, and we will come to you to clarify to you with the tongues of our weapons, to shed blood like rivers and avenging the oppressed," it said in a statement.

According to experts, the IS has eyed China owing to its treatment of ethnic minority Muslims, the Uighurs, in Xinjiang province in the western part of the country.

A Washington-based think tank has found that around 114 Uighurs have since joined the terror group, the highest number of foreign fighters from any one region of the world, outside of Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

2. Trinidad and Tobago

The Caribbean country, home to around 1.3 million people, has the highest rate of IS foreign recruitment in the Western hemisphere.

Around 30,000 Britishers visit Trinidad and Tobago every year.

Some 125 nationals of the island country are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the barbaric group's failing attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate.

It is feared these recruits could return and start launching attacks on embassies or tourist groups.

The country's foreign office has warned, "Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Trinidad and Tobago. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners."

The island country has a thriving international oil and gas industry and the potential terror threats have worried the US more.

3. New Zealand

A New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) watchlist has revealed that at least 40 people in New Zealand have links to the IS.

One of only two known faces of New Zealand "jihadis" (militants), Mark Taylor, is on a US watchlist as a global terrorist.

Taylor has actively encouraged terrorist attacks in Australia and New Zealand, according to the report and has changed his name to Abu Abdul-Rahman.

He was reportedly last seen in Syria, but his whereabouts remain unknown.

4. South Africa

The kidnapping and killing of the British-South African couple in Cape Town have led the British government to issue a travel advisory‚ warning of possible terror attacks on the South African soil.

"Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. Attacks could be indiscriminate‚ including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in major cities‚" the advisory read.

Several days after they vanished last week‚ South African elite force, the Hawks counter-terror operatives swooped on a man and woman they are holding under protracted surveillance.

5. The Maldives

The island country is becoming infamous as a fertile recruiting ground for the IS as it has seen a rise in extremism in recent years, coupled with the current political turmoil.

From a population of 400,000, at least 200 young Maldivians are believed to have fled to the Middle East to fight for the dreaded terror group.

In April last year, a Maldivian blogger who mocked "ISIS thugs" on the internet was reportedly hacked to death in the island country.

6. Canada

Nearly 200 "foreign" fighters, who fought alongside the IS in Iraq and Syria are known to have returned to Canada in recent years.

"Terrorism now remains the most immediate threat to national security", the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said in a recent annual report.

The public report, which covered from 2014 to 2016, warned the terror group continues to use its large online presence to recruit people on social media to travel to Syria and Iraq.

"These extremists also pose a potential threat if they return to Canada. For instance, they may radicalise others, help with logistics and financing for those who may want to travel abroad, or engage in attack planning here in Canada," said CSIS director Michel Coulombe.

The security agency cited several examples, such as the attack on Parliament Hill in October 2014 and the killing of terrorist suspect Aaron Driver in August 2016 in its report.

A man stabbed a police officer several times before mowing down four pedestrians in a suspected terror attack in Edmonton. An IS flag was found inside the vehicle. (ANI)