By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Published: 08:10 GMT, 23 December 2019 | Updated: 07:03 GMT, 24 December 2019
ISIS is reorganising in Iraq to become an ‘Al Qaeda on steroids’ with ‘better techniques’ and ‘a lot more money’, intelligence officials warned today.
The militants are said to be posing an increased threat after becoming more skilled and dangerous than Al Qaeda, two years after losing the last of their territory in Iraq.
The group have been buying vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment – and now have more technological nous, Kurdish and Western intelligence officials said.
Members of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service cheer in Mosul as they carry upside-down Islamic State flag, with the destroyed Al-Nuri mosque seen in the background on July 2, 2017
Fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, pose in front of a mural depicting the emblem of Islamic State in Hawija, Iraq, on October 5, 2017
Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, told BBC News: ‘They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal.
‘They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out.’
Mr Talabany, from the Zanyari Agency, added: ‘They are like Al Qaeda on steroids. We see the activities are increasing now, and we think the rebuilding phase is over.’
Speaking from Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq, he told how the terrorist group has spent 2019 in the Hamrin mountains rebuilding from the ruins of the caliphate.
ISIS militants either arrested or surrended to the Afghan government are presented to media in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday
Men suspected of being ISIS fighters wait to be searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces after leaving the group’s last holdout of Baghouz on February 22
Kurdish intelligence officials believe ISIS has 10,000 members in Iraq with up to 5,000 fighters, and fear they are being encouraged by current unrest in Baghdad.
Brigadier General William Seely, Commander of Task Force-Iraq, told the BBC the forces are better prepared than in 2014 when ISIS gained control of a third of Iraq.
He said: ‘The ISF (Iraqi security forces) and the Peshmerga are not the same forces as when Mosul fell. We have been here adding to their training.’
It comes amid claims extremists are holding sharia trials in UK jails, with a prisoner accused of disrespecting Islam by drinking alcohol given a punishment beating.
Afghan security forces take part in an ongoing operation against Islamic State militants in the Achin district of Nangarhar province on November 25
An Iraqi worker clears rubble during the reconstruction of the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul’s war-ravaged old town, on December 15
An ex-inmate alleged that he took part in the beatings and religious court hearings at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes with fellow prisoners who pledged allegiance to ISIS.
On Saturday, the Afghan government said it had arrested or surrounded up to 700 ISIS fighters and family members in eastern Afghanistan over the past six months.
The Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate for Security, said at least 75 women and 159 children, most of them from foreign countries, were in custody.
Most of the arrested IS members are from Pakistan, Jordan and Central Asian countries. As many as 277 foreigners are among the arrested militants.
ISIS is reorganising in Iraq to become an ‘Al Qaeda on steroids’
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