ISIS 'heat map' shows the group spreading worldwide

NBC News has obtained a “heat map” of ISIS expansion around the world dated August 2016. The map, which was prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, shows the group is now operating in three times as many countries as it was two years ago:

U.S. State Department documents indicated that in 2014, when the U.S. military began its campaign to destroy the extremists, there were only seven nations in which the fledgling state was operating…

The current briefing map shows 18 countries where ISIS is fully operational. The map also displays a new category — “aspiring branches” — and lists six countries where they’re taking root: Egypt, Indonesia, Mali, the Philippines, Somalia and Bangladesh.

Here’s the map:

ISIS map


President Obama has been wrong about ISIS from the outset. He was wrong when he referred to them as the JV Team and wrong again when he said “ISIL is not Islamic.” Obama still frames the group as a regional threat not a global one. CIA Director John Brennan offered a more sober analysis of the ISIS threat in June, noting that even as we make progress in Iraq and Syria the group is growing quickly in other places. From the Hill:

The U.S.-led effort has lowered the number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq from roughly 32,000 last year to between 18,000 and 22,000 now, Brennan said. But in the same time, the number of ISIS fighters has doubled in Libya, where the organization has gained a foothold, to between 5,000 and 8,000 fighters.

People from around the world, including some from America, have responded to ISIS’ violent and uncompromising message. But as this map indicates, it is in countries with large Islamic populations where the group is gaining a foothold. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone but it does run counter to the message the President has been pushing for the last two years.