The shocking attack by three terrorists on Kemal Ataturk airport has justifiably horrified us all. And on the assumption that it has been carried out by Islamic State (the target selection of a tourism hub & lack of claim are similar to other such attacks) it reinforces the view that IS is seeking to pressure Ankara into providing a more permissive environment for its fighters to transit into Syria after a crackdown over the last 18 months or so.
But our focus on Istanbul shouldn't blind us to the fact that IS has also been responsible for other attacks outside Syria over the past few days. In Yemen, four suicide bombers killed more than 40 people (mostly soldiers) in the southern city of Mukalla, while in northeastern Lebanon up to eight suicide bombers struck in two waves in Qa'a, a largely Christian village — the indications are that the village wasn't the real target for the bombers.
If we add to these the knife attack in France and possibly the 49 people killed in Orlando, we can see how seriously IS has taken its spokesman Muhammad al-Adnani's call for people to conduct attacks during Ramadan. Of more concern though, is the fact that the variety of attacks illustrates the multi-faceted nature of IS as a terrorist group. Its operatives or supporters have been able to conduct attacks in three continents that have been operationally supported (as in Qa'a), operationally directed (as in Yemen), or operationally inspired (as in France). This alone should highlight the fact that IS aims to be relevant after its loss of territory in Syria and Iraq, a fact highlighted by Adnani during his audio message for Ramadan.
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