Russia World Cup could be an 'attractive target for the Islamic State group'

Russia World Cup could be an 'attractive target for the Islamic State group'
A UK-based analysis firm has said this year's World Cup tournament would be an 'attractive target' for Islamic State extremists, given host Russia's role in defeating the group in Syria.
2 min read
18 January, 2018
IS attacks in Russia would be a 'propaganda boost,' says the UK-based analysis group [Getty]
The World Cup to be held in Russia this summer could be an "attractive target" for Islamic State attackers, a UK based analysis firm said, given Moscow's role in fighting the group in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month declared IS had suffered "complete defeat" in eastern Syria at the hands of Moscow-backed Syrian troops.

But the militant group's ground losses could trigger lone attacks outside of the Middle East, analysis firm IHS warned.

"A successful attack (in Russia) would provide a tremendous propaganda boost for the Islamic State and its fighters and supporters, underlining the ongoing international threat posed by the group despite its territorial defeat," an IHS report said on Thursday.

The participation of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the tournament provided an even greater incentive for the group to target it, it added.

Despite losing all territory in Iraq and Syria by November last year, the group claimed major attacks in Istanbul, London, Manchester, Barcelona and Tehran, killing dozens of civilians.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared the establishment of a so-called "caliphate" from Mosul's al-Nuri mosque in 2014, is still at large despite the collapse of the so-called "state".

Attacks claimed by IS rose slightly in 2017, to more than 4,500, despite its territorial losses, but fatalities from the attacks dropped by two-fifths compared with 2016 to about 6,500, the IHS said.

"As it came under growing territorial pressure, Islamic State transitioned back to insurgent operations, conducting a higher tempo of low intensity violence against security forces and non-state adversaries in areas newly recaptured from the group" in Iraq and Syria, said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, in the report.