Free Essay on ISIS Intelligence and Attacks in The US

Published: 2022-12-05
Free Essay on ISIS Intelligence and Attacks in The US
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Islam Terrorism
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1339 words
12 min read

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a militant terrorist group mostly located in the Middle East, particularly Iraq and Syria. It describes itself as a caliphate group known for brutal violence and murder of civilians. The group has associated itself with a lot of terror attacks not only in the Middle East but also dominant in western countries (History, 2018). The USA is among states believed to be number one enemy of the ISIS terror group with countless attacks on American civilians, journalists, special agents, etc. in the home soil and in the Middle East (History, 2018; Dempsey, 2018).

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The ISIS can be traced back to 2004 when Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group was founded. Musa al-Zarqawi, formerly a member of al Qaeda Network of Osama bin Laden, was the founder of this terror group. After the invasion of Iraq by the US, al Qaeda aimed at removing western footprints and establish Islamic State (History, 2018). al-Zarqawi was killed in 2006 during the US airstrikes in Iraq, and Abu Ayyub al-Masri acquired leadership. However, during the US operations in Iraq, he was killed and replaced by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In 2013, after conquering most parts of Syria, the group changed its name to the one it is called today (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The reign of ISIS expanded consequently. It implemented strict religious codes based on their traditional Islamic practices and regulations (sharia law). By 2014 they had seized Mosul, Falluja, and Tikrit in Iraq. It proclaimed itself a caliphate - a religious-political territory under a caliph. It carried multiple attacks on Yazidis which was a minority religious group. This attacks caused much attention from the media due to the brutal tactics that it employed (Dempsey, 2018). During the same year, al Qaeda disowned ISIS and its activities.

ISIS is considered the wealthiest terrorist group in the world (History, 2018). While statistics differ, in 2014 alone the organization made about $2 billion. A large portion of the earning came from bank seizures, oil refineries and other valuable assets from its territories. Besides, the group uses extortions, donations, stolen artefacts, and contribution from foreign recruits to fund their operations.

Although the United States has made much progress in dealing with terrorism attacks, ISIS intelligence divisions have seen much evolution which has made it possible to strike the US by surprise. This paper looks at some of the intelligence ISIS has employed in recent attacks on American soil.

War Against ISIS

Various countries, including the United States, have combined efforts to defeat the ISIS. In 2014, the US led a coalition aimed at striking ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It also started training programs for ISIS rebels to wage war against ISIS. President Barack Obama reported that the US had released approximately 9000 airstrikes on ISIS bases by 2015 (BBC News, 2015). In April 2017, the US army bombed ISIS compound in Afghanistan with a non-nuclear bomb.

Due to a series of airstrikes on ISIS, the group has been weakened both financially and militarily (History, 2018). Today, Iraq and Syria have regained much control of its areas from ISIS. However, due to continued defeat as a physical caliphate, the group's tactics have evolved. It has resorted to conducting hit-and-run operations and separate suicide attacks in the US soil and other parts of the world. These attacks are made possible by its intelligence divisions (Speckhard & Yayla, 2017).

ISIS Intelligence

ISIS call their intelligence division The Emni which means trust, security, and safety in Arabic. ISIS Emni is responsible for gathering intelligence both within and outside its Islamic State (Speckhard & Yayla, 2017). Their responsibilities include, but not limited to: collecting information on areas ISIS intends to attack or conquer, the natives to the regions, studying new recruits, analyzing and detecting possible attacks against ISIS, spreading ISIS propaganda in areas it intends to attack, recruiting and assigning foreign assailant for gathering information and carrying out attacks in their home countries, interacting with other rival terrorist groups and states among other responsibilities (Speckhard & Yayla, 2017).

These intelligence divisions have made it easy for ISIS to conduct their illegal operations and separate suicide attacks in various parts of the world. Such divisions make it difficult to attack ISIS while making it easy for it to attack by surprise. They usually take time to plan their attacks, and by the time national Intelligence is notified of its attacks, it is usually difficult to know the real target. Besides, ISIS carries attacks on multiple locations as a contingency plan, that is, if one fails the other attacks are successful. Some of the attempted attacks in US soil are discussed in the following sections.

Online Troll- Curtis Culwell Center Attack

This is a technique in which a person starts inflammatory and digressive arguments or comments that leave followers leaning to their course, thus offering the opportunity of gathering information or directing them to do something. In the Curtis Culwell Center attack, Joshua Ryne Goldberg used ISIS online trolling account to incite Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi into conducting the attack. He posted maps of the exhibition urging them to conduct the attack. Elton Simpson also interacted with Junaid Hussain, a hacker and member of ISIL via Twitter where FBI believe Hussain encouraged Simpson to carry out attacks in US soil. During the attack, they opened fire at officers at the entrance at the Freedom Defense Initiative exhibition featuring cartoon images of Muhammad. They shot the Garland Independent School District security officer who was unarmed in the ankle before an off duty Garland police officer working as a mall security officer shot and killed them. ISIS issued a statement taking responsibility for the attack.

Foreign Fighter Spying - December 2, 2015, San Bernardino, California attack

This is a type of intelligence in which ISIS uses foreign recruits to spy and carry out attacks on their home country. In San Bernardino attack, Syed Rizwan Farrok and his wife Tashfeen Malik were a homegrown extremist who lived in Redlands. They targeted the Department of Public Health training event and Christmas party in which Farook worked as a health department employee where he gathered information necessary for the attack in the facility. FBI investigators reported that Farook and Malik had been radicalized several years before the attack expressing their commitment to martyrdom and jihadism. The couple had weapons and bomb-making equipment in their home. The attack left fourteen people dead while 22 nursing serious injuries.

Lone Wolf Terrorism - Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shooting

This is a type of technique in which ISIS uses someone who plans and carries out the attack without any material help from the group after being motivated by the group's propaganda through watching videos of its activities. Pulse gay Nightclub shooting the attacker Omar Mateen carried out the attack alone. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has not been able to rule out assistance from an external group. Omar worked as a security officer. He killed 49 people while injuring 53 others before being killed by Orlando police after three hours of hostage situation. Mateen declared his devotion to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad in a phone call negotiation with agents. He pointed out the killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq by the US as the trigger of the attack. Matten had spied on several targets before selecting Pulse.


Even as ISIS continues to see defeats in its territories of the Middle East, it has resorted to hit-and-run operations and isolated suicide attacks. The US policy on terrorism needs to change to meet the evolving tactics of ISIS. Counterterrorism operations should prioritize home security and safety.


Dempsey, M., P. (2018, January 18). How ISIS' strategy is evolving: What the U.S. can do to counter the group's shifting tactics. Retrieved from:

History. (2018, August 21). ISIS. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved from:

Yayla, A., S., and Speckhard, A. (2017). The Role of ISIS Emni: Source and inner workings of ISIS's intelligence. Georgetown University. Retrieved from:'s_Intelligence_Apparatus

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