Recently two cells of Islamic State operatives were arrested in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. While both groups had direct ties to the Islamic state, one consisted of all females and was tasked with social media outreach along with propaganda. The other was an all male group dedicated to direct action based terror attacks to be carried out in the region in an effort to create general instability. They were arrested late last year by Kurdistan’s secret police, the Asayish, but the investigation was only recently concluded.

At the time of the arrest, both groups were actively receiving orders from Islamic State leaders in preparation for an attack. Specifically the female group was handling coordination and logistics while the male group purchased weapons and munitions via the black market. Out of the four arrested woman, three of them were married with children. The fourth was a 28-year old university graduate with a BA.

During a testimony to Asayish, most of them admitted they found their way to IS via social media recruitment. The recruiters requested they move to IS-controlled territory but they refused due to ties with family in Kurdistan. Among the group of five men arrested, one was of Arab descent and the rest were Kurdish. They had been given the task of preparing for a large-scale attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan region such as a Kurdish New Year’s celebration or other holdiay.

Later in a public statement, an Asayish spokesman stated that preventing IS attacks had become increasingly difficult. This is partially due to the fact that IS is beginning to revert to terrorist and insurgency-style tactics. The other difficult part is that the Asayish are combating the group’s extremist ideology in conjunction with the armed threat. This has forced the Kurdish security forces to shift gears and deter the Islamic State’s efforts from a new angle.
 During their testimony, all members of both groups admitted to being conspirators of the Islamic State. All of them having originated from within Kurdistan as residents. An outside party was arrested as well, a man identified by the Asayish as a legal arms dealer who sold the groups the weapons “unknowingly” without contacting Kurdish security forces to report the transactions.
 This is a perfect example of the kind of situation the Kurds and Middle Eastern community of surrounding nations will find themselves dealing with all the more frequently. Now that the capitals of the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq have collapsed under coalition-backed forces, their remaining collaborators will disappear into the surrounding countries and continue the fight through terrorism-based activities. Terrorism is adaptive and continues to do so as the environments and situations change.
Featured image courtesy of AP