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The Islamic State (IS) presently controls significant amounts of land throughout Iraq and Syria. However, its ambitions are not restricted to this territory. Within days of announcing its ‘Caliphate’, the self-appointed ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi vowed that IS would eventually “conquer Rome”.
IS precursor groups and the individuals which have trained alongside them have displayed an interest in attacking the West for years. However, an audio message released on 21 September 2014, saw Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, an IS spokesman, attempt to ratchet up the threat. He instructed IS supporters to carry out attacks in the West – no matter how crude.
There has subsequently been an increase in IS-linked plots that have emerged in the West. “We Will Conquer Your Rome:” A Study of Islamic State Terror Plots in the West by research fellow Robin Simcox studies all those that have been reported since the declaration of the ‘Caliphate’, and attempts to draw conclusions about any trends that may be developing.
The report studies over a year’s worth of Islamic State plots. It examines which countries were most commonly targeted; the age; nationality; background; terrorist training and combat experience of the perpetrators; relevance of the Internet; which sectors are most commonly targeted for attack; and assesses the extent to which the Islamic State directed, assisted or simply just inspired these plots.
It concludes that since the declaration of IS’s ‘Caliphate’, there have been, on average, over two plots related to IS that either are foiled or take place in the West every month.