(New York, N.Y.) — On Monday, Italy and the United States co-hosted a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Rome. The Global Coalition Ministerial was the group’s first in-person meeting in more than two years, during which the 83-member coalition discussed expanding advisory, training, and capacity-building missions in Iraq, as well as helping strengthen Iraqi security forces and institutions to better combat the ongoing threat of ISIS. The agenda also included discussions regarding increasing pressure in countering ISIS’s global network, particularly ISIS’s cells in the Sahel Region and East Africa.
The meeting occurred a day before the seventh anniversary of the founding of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, which was established in territories between eastern Syria and western Iraq, and two years since the group’s territorial defeat in Syria. Nonetheless, ISIS continues to maintain and expand its global presence. The group has declared wilayat (provinces, governorates) in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and the North Caucasus. Within the first seven months of 2019, ISIS announced new provinces in India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Central Africa as it sought to reassert itself after the loss of its territory in Iraq and Syria. In March 2020, citing ISIS’s violent activities in Africa, the United States designated ISIS’s provinces in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The terror group maintains a presence in Morocco, Tunisia, the Philippines, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Palestinian territories and has seen ISIS supporters carry out lone-wolf attacks in Western countries such as France and Belgium.
ISIS finds its origins in al-Qaeda forerunner al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). During the Iraq War and its aftermath, the group experienced a series of setbacks and restructurings, for a while going by the name the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). In June 2014, the group—then led by Iraqi extremist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—unilaterally declared a caliphate spanning eastern Syria and western Iraq, naming Baghdadi as its “caliph.” In his “inaugural speech” launching the Islamic State on June 29, 2014, Baghdadi expanded further on the significance of the caliphate. Most important, he claimed, was that all Muslims submit and pledge bay’a (allegiance) to the caliphate.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s ISIS resource, please click here.