The terror organization ISIS has built an intricate intelligence apparatus to orchestrate attacks across the world, according to an in-depth piece from Rukmini Callimachi for The New York Times.
Harry Sarfo, a German man who joined ISIS and is now serving a three-year sentence on terrorism charges in a maximum security prison in Bremen, gave Callimachi intimate details about this apparatus, highlighting the methods the terror organization employs to spread terror well beyond Syria.
An ISIS intelligence unit known as the Emni is responsible for organizing the terror groups international activities.
According to Callimachi,
Based on the accounts of operatives arrested so far, the Emni has become the crucial cog in the group's terrorism machinery, and its trainees led the Paris attacks and built the suitcase bombs used in a Brussels airport terminal and subway station. Investigation records show that its foot soldiers have also been sent to Austria, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia... Records from French, Austrian and Belgian intelligence agencies show that at least 28 operatives recruited by the Emni succeeded in deploying to countries outside of the Islamic State's core territory, mounting both successful attacks and plots that were foiled. Officials say that dozens of other operatives have slipped through and formed sleeper cells.
However, one region ISIS has had difficulties sending trained attackers to is North America, according to what Sarfo told Callimachi.
This is because it's hard for ISIS to get people into America once they've traveled to Syria.
There have been American members of ISIS, and some recruited for what Callimachi referred to as its "external operation wing," but the US has definitely proved more difficult for ISIS to send trained attackers to than other countries.
But, in order to make up for this, ISIS aims to exploit a major aspect of American society: loose gun laws.
According to Mr. Sarfo, ISIS' goal is to recruit Americans over social media and encourage them to take advantage of how easy it is to get guns. He said,
For America and Canada, it's much easier for them to get them over the social network, because [ISIS says] the Americans are dumb — they have open gun policies. [ISIS says] we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don't need to have no contact man who has to provide guns for them.
Sarfo's comments bring to mind the Orlando shooter, the individual responsible for the worst mass shooting in US history, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, according to the FBI, and was radicalized online.
The Orlando shooter was an American citizen, born in Queens, who legally purchased firearms within roughly a week of the massacre.
ISIS is hardly the first group to urge would-be terrorists to exploit America's gun laws -- Al Qaeda has also employed this tactic.
In the West, you've got a lot at your disposal. Let's take America as an example. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?
All of this arguably provides yet another reason for the US to advocate for stronger gun control laws in order to prevent firearms from ending up in the wrong hands.
Citations: The New York Times