Mapping the Spread of the ISIS Plague

The Islamic State keeps morphing, and the United States and its allies are struggling to keep up.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.21.05 PM
Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.21.05 PM

From bombings in Jakarta and Istanbul to attacks on oil facilities in Libya, the Islamic State is rapidly expanding its operations far beyond its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Washington -- initially reluctant for political reasons to acknowledge the group’s growing reach -- is scrambling to keep up.

President Barack Obama, who took office promising to reduce America’s military involvement in the Middle East, is weighing sending more U.S. troops to Iraq to bolster the fight against the Islamic State and is poised to open a new front against the militant group in Libya.

The shifts come amid signs that the Islamic State is on the move in North Africa and is working to spread its terrorist network across the continent and into Asia. Outside Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has declared “provinces,” or wilayat, for its self-declared “caliphate” in nine other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Russia.

From bombings in Jakarta and Istanbul to attacks on oil facilities in Libya, the Islamic State is rapidly expanding its operations far beyond its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Washington — initially reluctant for political reasons to acknowledge the group’s growing reach — is scrambling to keep up.

President Barack Obama, who took office promising to reduce America’s military involvement in the Middle East, is weighing sending more U.S. troops to Iraq to bolster the fight against the Islamic State and is poised to open a new front against the militant group in Libya.

The shifts come amid signs that the Islamic State is on the move in North Africa and is working to spread its terrorist network across the continent and into Asia. Outside Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has declared “provinces,” or wilayat, for its self-declared “caliphate” in nine other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Russia.

And that list could grow: U.S. officials and analysts fear the group will soon plant its flag in new locations, including Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Somalia.

Drawing from data provided by the Institute for the Study of War and IHS Jane’s, here is an interactive map showing where the Islamic State has declared its provinces — and where the group could yet extend its reach.

  Twitter: @seekayhickey

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