On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul to declare the city liberated from the Islamic State grou[. The move came almost three years to the day after the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate from the Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri. The liberation marks the collapse of al Baghdadi’s expansionist vision. But the threat posed by the wider salafi jihadist movement remains. Indeed, that threat is likely to evolve and could, in some respects, become more potent. Here are five reasons why now is not the time for the U.S. and the rest of the counter-Islamic State group coalition to declare mission accomplished:
First, a network of Islamic State group affiliates and fellow travelers persists from sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia. Many of these groups have profited from their affiliation with the Islamic State group, growing in numbers and territory. As we have seen on the streets of Paris, Manchester and London, the Islamic State group’s networks in Europe remain capable of inspiring, planning, and executing terror attacks. Al-Qaida and its affiliates have also benefited from the renewed attention to their wider cause.