Threat of ISIS To Last for 'Years to Come,' Jihadi Experts Warn

An Islamic State fighter waves the group's flag
A fighter of the Islamic State (ISIS) holds the group's flag on a street in Mosul, Iraq, June 23, 2014. Experts have warned that the threat of ISIS will endure for years despite the military defeats the group is suffering. Stringer/Reuters

The threat posed by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) will last for "years to come," despite projected territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, a grouping of top experts on jihadism warned late Monday.

The report, entitled The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Beyond, was coordinated by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and authored by 20 leading experts on jihadism and ISIS's ideology.

It warns that the group will last "years to come as a pure insurgency using terrorist tactics" and says that ISIS's ability to mobilize supporters and sympathizers would give it "a lasting legacy" as well as rendering the group "a future threat."

It reports how the military focus on defeating ISIS could be short-sighted in the long-term as the rise of ISIS was predominantly caused by its ideology and the attraction that the group presented to would-be jihadis. The U.S.-led coalition has been waging an air campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria since August 2014.

Ground offensives against the group in northern Syria and northern Iraq have raised concerns among EU officials that foreign fighters will return to the continent and pose a significant security threat.

"Eliminating an extremist group physically does not defang its ideology or change the underlying circumstances that allowed the group to gain traction in the first place," the report states.

"Reconstruction, rehabilitation and particularly reconciliation are just as important as any military counterterrorism campaign in building societal resilience against the appeal of extremism. Failure to carry out these steps has been a recurrent problem."

The radical Islamist group has found itself under pressure in the territory it controls from a range of opponents in Iraq, Syria and Libya. It has subsequently continued to lose territory throughout the past year, particularly the western Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, as well as the central Libyan city of Sirte.