Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on jihadist groups and formerly affiliated with the University of Mosul, learned from local sources that the organization has in the course of a year amassed 12,000 fighters in Ninevah alone. He also cited claims by IS that 4,000 men from the Sahwa forces and local police in the city of Ramadi had pledged their allegiance to the group after it tightened its grip on the province May 14.
The miserable economic situation in the regions IS has captured helps the organization's recruitment efforts, attracting unemployed youth who need money and are willing to take any job available. The prevailing status quo and coming battles in Iraq's big cities against the army and Popular Mobilizations Units are likely to encourage more young people to join IS' ranks, further strengthening the organization.
The international community, in countering IS, will need to increase its efforts and implement stricter measures to keep it from capturing additional financial resources to boost its staying power.
It appears that IS has transformed jihad into an official military institution, in the wake of Salafist groups downplaying its spiritual component, turning it into a political tool to fight governments and to implement its expansionist goals.
(Terrorism image via Shutterstock)