Officials warned about the possible terrorist activity by Islamic State in various countries
As the Islamic State (IS) loses territory in Iraq and Syria, they are bracing for large numbers of battle-tested terrorist fighters to escape the conflict and prepare attacks after returning home.
Some of the fighters will head north to Western Europe, posing a threat that many countries there still seem ill prepared to combat.
Top IS leaders acknowledge the inevitable collapse of their declared caliphate, and they appear to be shifting to a new strategy that threatens Europe on multiple fronts: with cells developed in Europe over the past two years, with returning fighters, and with followers who heed the IS’s call to carry out attacks.
Many of the attacks conducted in Western Europe and the U.S. over the past six months underline the reality that returning fighters would be just one element in the IS’s larger strategy to remain relevant after losing territorial control.
U.S. military officials say the battles to seize Raqqa and Mosul could be well under way within the next two or three months, flushing out thousands of foreign fighters and forcing them to make hard choices.