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«2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 199 ARTICLE Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield Gil Avriel* * Legal ...»

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2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 231 Moreover, in line with Civilitary Model II, ISIL facilitates and executes terrorist attacks around the world. According to various sources, between October 2014 and August 2015, ISIL has directed terrorist attacks in numerous counties such as France, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Kuwait, while other terrorist attacks in Australia, Algeria, Canada, United States, and Denmark are also believed to be linked to or inspired by the territorial terrorist group.163 In light of ISIL’s terrorist attacks around the world, between October 2014 and August 2015 law enforcement agencies arrested ISIL operatives and suspected supporters in Australia, Canada, United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Morocco, Belgium, Germany, Israel, Bangladesh, Spain, Tunisia, Malesia, Turkey, Kosovo, the United Kingdom and Italy.164 ISIL previously relied on so-called “lone wolf” actors that were simply inspired by ISIL to carry out attacks abroad on their own—including several incidents in the U.S.165 Recently, however, ISIL appears to be embarking on complicated, commanded and controlled multi-actor external operations166 and is developing a specific group within its organization dedicated to launching terrorist attacks around the world.167 As a result, in October 2015, ISIL staged a massive terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey, killing nearly 100 civilians and injuring hundreds.168 In November 2015, ISIL executed a double bombing in Lebanon (43 civilians dead),169 claimed credit for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt (224 civilians dead),170 claimed a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks in Paris171 (more than 130 civilians dead and 350 injured in the See Karen Yourish, Derek Watkins, and Tom Giratkanon, Where ISIS Has Directed and Inspired Attacks Around the World, NY TIMES (Nov. 17, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/map-isis-attacks-around-theworld.html?_r=0; see also Robert Wall, Foreign Fighters Are Still Able to Travel to War Zones Despite Efforts to Halt Flow, THE WALL ST. J. (Oct. 27, 2015) http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-ncountries-cant-stop-flow-of-foreign-fighters-to-war-zones-1445958056.


See Ross, supra at 94; Karen Yourish, ISIS Is Likely Responsible for Nearly 1,000 Civilian Deaths Outside Iraq and Syria, THE N.Y TIMES (Nov. 17, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/ interactive/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/map-isis-attacks-around-the-world.html?_r=0.



See Lizzie Dearden, Ankara Terror Attack ‘Ordered by Isis to Cause Political Instability and Delay Elections,’ Turkish Prosecutors Say, THE INDEPENDENT (Oct. 28, 2015), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ankara-terror-attack-ordered-by-isis-to-causepolitical-instability-and-delay-elections-turkish-a6711766.html.

See Beirut Bomb: At Least 43 Dead in Twin Isis Suicide Blast in Lebanese Capital, THE INDEPENDENT (Nov. 13, 2015), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/beirutbomb-scores-killed-in-twin-suicide-blast-in-lebanese-capital-a6732156.html.

ISIS Claims Soda Can Bomb Took Down Russian Plane, NBC NEWS (Nov. 18, 2015), http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/isis-claims-soda-can-bomb-took-down-russianplane-569529923685.

See Rukmini Callimachi, ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks ‘First of the Storm,’ N.Y. TIMES (Nov. 14, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/world/europe/isis-claimsresponsibility-for-paris-attacks-calling-them-miracles.html.

232 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 deadliest attacks to hit the city since World War II172 and the most lethal terrorist attack in Europe since the Madrid bombings of 2004), and claimed a terrorist attack on a bus in Tunisia (12 civilians dead).173 In Model II, states launch airstrikes against territorial terrorist groups. In this case, both U.S.-led coalition forces and Russia have engaged in air campaigns against ISIL.174 According to Department of Defense data released in January 2016, the United States and its coalition allies had so far conducted a total of 9,782 airstrikes (6,516 Iraq / 3,266 Syria).175 As of the end of December 2015, the total cost of operations related to ISIL (since the U.S. campaign started on Aug. 8,

2014) was $5.8 billion and the average daily cost was $11.4 million.176 News reports quote a senior military officer in the Pentagon noting that the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL had killed 20,000 of the group’s fighters in just over a year.177 The coalition airstrikes pose a significant challenge to ISIL. In response, and in line with Civilitary Model III, ISIL has begun to embed itself among civilians in order to make itself indistinguishable from its surroundings.178 In December 2015, President Obama stated that the fight against ISIL continues to be a difficult, “as ISIL is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind Lori Hinnant, 120 Dead in Paris Attacks, Worst Since WWII, ABC NEWS (Nov. 14, 2015), http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-police-report-shootout-explosion-parisAdam Withnall, Tunisia Bus Attack: Isis Claims Responsibility for Suicide Bomb Blast Killing 12 in Tunis, THE INDEPENDENT (NOV. 25, 2015), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ world/africa/tunisia-bus-attack-isis-claims-responsibility-for-suicide-bomb-blast-killing-12-intunis-a6748411.html.

See U.S. Officials Say 6,000 ISIL Fighters Killed in Battles, CNN (Jan. 22, 2015), http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/22/politics/us-officials-say-6000-ISIL-fighters-killed-in-battles/;

Russia Launches First Airstrikes in Syria, CNN (Oct. 1, 2015), http://edition.


See Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, Department of Defense (Jan. 19, 2016), http://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0814_Inherent-Resolve. U.S. has conducted 7,551 strikes in Iraq and Syria (4,482 Iraq / 3,069 Syria). Rest of Coalition has conducted 2,231 strikes in Iraq and Syria (2,034 Iraq /197 Syria).


Tom Vanden Brook, ISIL Death Toll at 20,000, but ‘Stalemate’ Continues, USA TODAY (OCT.

12, 2015), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/10/12/islamic-state-pentagon/ 73840116/; Counting the ISIS Dead, THE ATLANTIC (Oct. 2015), http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/us-isis-fighters-killed/410599/;

The U.S. Air Campaign in Syria Is Suspiciously Impressive at Not Killing Civilians, FOREIGN POLICY (Nov. 25, 2015), http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/25/the-u-s-air-campaign-in-syria-issuspiciously-impressive-at-not-killing-civilians/.

See Anthony H. Cordesman, The War Against The Islamic State: The Challenge Of Civilian Casualties, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (Jan. 8, 2015), http://csis.org/files/publication/150108_War_Against_the_Islamic_State_rev.pdf.

2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 233 civilians, using defenseless men, women, and children as human shields. So even as we are relentless, we have to be smart and target ISIL with precision.”179 The following examples support President Obama’s statement. In October 2014, two Australian Super Hornet jets pulled out of a planned strike on a moving ISIL target in Iraq because the targeted terrorists fled into civilian areas.180 ISIL’s fighters, according to a national security journalist, “adapted to bombing raids by fleeing for the safety of civilian areas when confronted by a threat from above.”181 “ISIL is now dispersing its assets to allow situations to be more survivable, requiring the U.S.-led forces to work harder to locate and appropriately target the group.”182 Similarly, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that in response to Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, the terrorists are deploying armored hardware in close proximity to mosques because they know, according to the Russian spokesman, that Russian aviation will not strike them.183 News reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa confirmed, unsurprisingly, that in response to the heavy bombardment by Russian, French and U.S. fighter jets184 ISIL is now deliberately placing its command centers in civilian neighborhoods and has hidden its vehicles among the civilian population.

In November 2015, Kurdish forces recaptured the city of Sinjar and found that beneath the Iraqi city lay hundreds of feet of underground tunnels and pathways that ISIL used to evade coalition airstrikes.185 They were found filled with remnants of food, medical supplies, blankets and bomb-making Remarks by the President on the Military Campaign to Destroy ISIL, THE WHITE HOUSE (Dec.

14, 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/14/remarks-president-militarycampaign-destroy-isil.

David Roe, Islamic State Fighters Fled Into Civilian Areas at First Sight of Australian Forces, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Oct. 6, 2014), http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/politicalnews/islamic-state-fighters-fled-into-civilian-areas-at-first-sight-of-australian-forces-defencerrml.html.


David Pugliese, CF-18 Pilots May Find It Difficult to Find ISIL Targets to Bomb, OTTAWA CITIZEN (Oct. 2, 2014), http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/cf-18-pilots-may-find-it-difficultto-find-isil-targets-to-bomb. See also Ross Baggage, Deeper Challenges for Australia in CounterISIL Campaign, THE STRATEGIST – AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE (Oct. 10, 2014), http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/deeper-challenges-for-australia-in-counter-isil-campaign/.

Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Having Recognized High Effectiveness of Armament Detection and Threat of Immediate Liquidation, Terrorists are Taking Efforts to Transport Weapons to Inhabited Areas (Sept. 10, 2015), http://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12059896@egNews.

See Hitting ISIS in Raqqa After the Paris Attacks, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Nov. 20, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-mapsphotos-and-video.html.

See The Islamic State's Underground Lair, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Jan. 6, 2016), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/gallerys/2016-01-06/islamic-states-underground-lair.

234 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 equipment.186 These tunnels, similar to the ones found in Gaza and used by Hamas, opened into above-ground houses and enabled the militants to move through the city undetected.187 Currently, ISIL has no answer to the airstrikes of the U.S coalition or the Russian forces. It has to adapt to the new reality.188 As these bombings intensify, ISIL will take measures to further blend into the local population’s civilian habitat and make itself even more indistinguishable.189 But this defensive adaptation strategy is not likely to satisfy ISIL. According to Civilitary Theory, ISIL is likely to seek to develop more robust offensive capabilities as a countermeasure and to expand beyond its current territories.190 In July 2015, a study by the Institute of the Study of War predicted that ISIL would likely expand regionally and project force globally in the medium term.191 Pictures taken during ISIL’s military parade in Al-Raqqah depicted a scud missile that could suggest that the group has obtained terroballistic capabilities.192 Nevertheless, as long as ISIL does not develop strong offensive capabilities in the form of terroballistic capabilities, it appears to remain in Model II.


Id. Referring to Arthur Herman, Notes From the Underground, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (August. 26, 2014) ("perhaps the most surprising development of the recent war between Israel and Gaza was the discovery of the sophisticated network of tunnels that Hamas had quietly developed in the preceding years"), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2014-08-26/notesundergro und.

See Harleen Gambhir, The Isis Regional Strategy for Yemen and Saudi Arabia, INSTITUTE OF THE STUDY OF WAR (May 22, 2015), http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/isisregional-strategy-yemen-and-saudi-arabia.

ISIS Digging in Amid Intensified Airstrikes in Raqqa, Say Activists, THE GUARDIAN (Nov. 18, 2015), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/18/isis-intensified-airstrikes-raqqa-activistsparis-attacks.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, “ISIS—no longer a regional problem—is executing a complex strategy across three geographic rings.” The “Interior Ring” “is at the center of the fighting and includes terrain the group is named for, specifically Iraq and al Sham.” The “Near Abroad Ring” “includes the rest of the Middle East and North Africa.” The “Far Abroad Ring” “includes the rest of the world, specifically Europe, the U.S. and Asia.” According to the authors, “ISIS’s primary mission on the Interior Ring is defending the current territories it controls in Iraq and Syria from counterattack and undermining neighboring states,” while its “primary mission in the Near Abroad is territorial expansion,” and its aim in the Far Abroad is “disruption of the current political order through terrorism and cyberattacks.” Jessica Lewis McFate and Harleen Gambhir, Islamic State’s Global Ambitions, THE WALL ST. J. (Feb. 22, 2015), http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-states-global-ambitions-1424646205.

Harleen Gambhir, ISIS’s Global Strategy: A Wargame, Middle East Security Report No. 28, Institute of the Study of War 7 (July 2015), http://understandingwar.org/sites/ default/files/ISIS%20Global%20Strategy%20--%20A%20Wargame%20FINAL.pdf.

Sharona Schwartz, Islamic State Boasts Scud Missile and Tanks in Celebratory Military Parade, THE BLAZE (Jul. 1, 2014), http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/01/islamic-stateboasts-scud-missile-and-tanks-in-celebratory-military-parade/.

2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 235

3. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ISIL in the Sinai Peninsula)

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