A top terror expert says ISIS is now so weak that it could be decimated within hours.
According to a London Express report Monday evening, Russian airstrikes, unruly leadership and numerous defections have destabilized the terror organization to the point that it is no longer capable of fighting off even a small attack.
Terror analyst Dr. Afzal Ashraf told the paper that ISIS has drastically exaggerated its military power, prompting an international counterattack. Ashraf urged Western leaders to act now to wipe out the jihadi group.
The U.S. has led a coalition of airstrikes against ISIS. The New York Times reported that the coalition is preparing to open a major front in Raqqa, a city in northeastern Syria that is widely considered to be ISIS’ capital. President Obama has also ordered the Pentagon to provide weapons to Syrian rebel groups.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to send 150,000 troops into Syria to wipe out ISIS, according to the paper.
Ashraf, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, told the Express: “This mythical state will disappear in a matter of hours once the international community decides to act.
“It won’t take very long at all to drive them, if not out of all of Iraq or Syria, then certainly the majority of their territories.
“They will hide in towns, but I would say do not to follow them as they would use innocent civilians as human shields.
“Leave them in these isolated settlements, and they will soon lose control.”
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who was the deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence from 2002 to 2007, questioned Ashraf’s assessment.
He told WND the assessment “is not credible in my view. ISIS is well armed because of all the U.S. equipment that the Iraqis have left behind. ISIS is also well-funded because of the oil (dollars) and the bank robberies and extortion they have been involved in. That allows them to buy tribal leaders and to purchase modern communications and materiel.”
In an email, Boykin pointed out that ISIS is an ideology that cannot be defeated only through “kinetic solutions.”
“We all know that Russia is not bombing ISIS,” Boykin said. “They are hitting targets that are immediate threats to Assad.”
Ashraf’s claims came as Russian warplanes blasted nine ISIS posts in Syria, demolishing a vital command center and likely killing dozens of jihadis.
Also Monday, Turkey said a Russian warplane near the Syrian border crossed into its airspace. Turkey quickly readied its F-16 fighter jets and contacted the Russian ambassador. Turkey Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he would take any measures necessary to protect Turkey’s borders from another incursion.
Russia admitted that its plane had entered Turkey, but it claimed it was done “by mistake” and promised it wouldn’t happen again. A U.S. defense official dismissed that explanation, according to CBS News.
The Russian war planes also came as close as they’ve ever been to U.S. planes over Syria, CBS News reported. The Russians came within 20 miles of American pilots, who were able to locate them on targeting cameras.
NBC News reported that the Russian military has been moving its artillery and ground forces toward Hama, one of the initial targets of the Russians when they began airstrikes.
A senior defense official told NBC News, “So much for fighting ISIS.”
U.S. officials have questioned whether Russia’s strikes are actually part of an effort to support Syrian President Bashar Assad by bombing anti-government rebels.
In September, several reports claimed half of ISIS’ fighters had been killed, and many were deserting the terror group after their pay was decreased.
Ashraf claims ISIS’ military muscle has been significantly embellished.
“They have built up this superhero status because of the way the Iraqi army just fell apart when they confronted it,” he told the paper. “But that was not very much to do with their ability to fight; it was to do with the Iraqi army, which just doesn’t have a leadership that inspires. Once you’ve got a general running off, you don’t expect the soldiers to stand and fight.
“As a result, they have given the impression that they are far more capable than they are. If we had serious forces fighting in a coordinated battle against these people, they wouldn’t last very long at all.”
In fact, the Express reported, ISIS has only actually executed one terror attack in the last 14 months.
The group indirectly inspires more attacks abroad than it manages to carry out.
According to the Henry Jackson Society, approximately 75 percent of jihadis who claim to execute attacks on behalf of ISIS were inspired by videos online and have never actually had contact with the terror group.
Ashraf told the Express that ISIS’ tactic of encouraging “lone-wolf” attacks is backfiring – because now the international community is responding.
“Late last summer, when ISIS came under attack from Western forces, it started to lash out, first through beheadings of Western hostages.
“The reason we’ve seen a fall in beheadings since then is because they achieved nothing. ISIS had a lot of demands, and they never succeeded in those demands.
“Instead, they are now encouraging attacks in other countries, but their actions both in terms of inspiring these attacks and in causing a refugee crisis have taken the heat off Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and have put the focus of the main threat onto them.
“What’s happening with these attacks, particularly the Tunisia attack, is that the British government has now taken an increasingly more assertive and aggressive role in the fight against them.
“ISIS has now achieved itself through its own actions what many politicians and people failed to do, and that’s to galvanize the international community against it.”