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Merger with Smaller Jihadist Groups Strengthening Islamic State Numbers

Merger with Smaller Jihadist Groups Strengthening Islamic State Numbers

A September 11th report based on comments by a CIA spokesman indicates that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has “two or three times” more fighters than the CIA “previously estimated.” 

The new estimate is somewhere between “20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria,” and this reflects ISIS’s growing popularity with smaller jihad groups throughout the Middle East.

According to FOX CT, the unnamed CIA spokesman said ISIS’s recruitment has seen a strong uptick “since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate.” He said ISIS has also attracted new fighters by broadening its “battled activity” and increasing its use of “additional intelligence.”

On September 4, Breitbart News reported that smaller jihad groups and individual supporters were also actively supporting ISIS and recruiting for them in the border regions of Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan.

The Express Tribune reported this expansion as part of “the spillover effect” benefiting ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This has resulted in ISIS receiving the support of “a number of hardline groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” It also means “stalwarts of Saudi Arabia-backed Salafi Taliban,” like Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost and Maulvi Abdul Qahar, have come out in support of “the self-styled caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

On September 3, BBC News reported that a commander of Hezb-e-Islami fighters in Afghanistan said he is praying for ISIS and will join them if they “meet the requirements for an Islamic caliphate.” 

ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley in August and a second American journalist, Steve Sotloff, in early September. On August 19, they released a video warning Americans, “We will drown all of you in blood.” 

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.  Reach him directly at


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