ISIS jihadis are rampant in Syria and Iraq once again – launching prison breaks and depraved suicide bomb attacks.
The Islamic death cult was crushed last year when they were driven out of their last enclave in Baghuz in north eastern Syria.
However, sleeper cells have regrouped under new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi and are now taking advantage of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the region.
There are currently up to 3,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and attacks have increased five-fold in the last month as half the country’s soldiers have been quarantined.
Officially, Iraq has recorded 95 deaths from 2,219 cases of Covid-19 – but the true figure is believed to be much higher given the country’s proximity to Iran which has endured the region’s worst outbreak.
Capitalising on the instability in the country, a brainwashed suicide bomber blew himself up at a government building in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad on April 28 killing three security guards.
And at the weekend, ten Iraqi soldiers were killed in a co-ordinated terror attack in Salahaddin, 54 miles outside of the capital.
Husham al-Hashimi, security adviser to the government in Iraq, told Sun Online that the resurgent terror group’s current income is around $100,000 per day.
He also said that businesses in the city of Mosul, a former Islamic State stronghold, are having money extorted from them by the extremist gangsters.
Mr al-Hashimi said: “Some merchants recently complained that ISIS militants again imposed royalties on them.
“Current extortion and royalties are often conducted in secret, but some merchants are responding to them for fear of reprisals.”
Speaking of their current finances, he added: “According to a ISIS finance official who was arrested two months ago, the group collects approximately $100,000 a day in Iraq from trading and smuggling medicines, arms and livestock.
“They also extort money from a wide range of companies.”
ISIS has grown in confidence following US withdrawal from the region, instability in both Syria and Iraq and the onset of coronavirus.
Security officials now claim the terror group is unleashing around 20 attacks per month up from around one per week after their defeat last year.
Experts also believe that, under a twisted new regime, young extremists are bidding to secure the influence of new leader al-Quraishi by carrying out assaults.
The group has continued to churn out warped propaganda as it looks to recruit young and impressionable men and women.
Last week, the cult’s militants in Yemen released a video slamming fellow Islamic militants Al-Qaeda accusing it of deviating from the path of jihad following the Arab Spring in 2011, a movement which sparked the civil war in Syria.
In the clip, titled ‘To Be Absolved Before Your Lord’ several extremists including ex-Al-Qaeda fighters accuse the group of not implementing hardline Sharia law in its territories.
In north east Syria, an area ISIS controlled at the height of the country’s civil war, more than 14,000 suspected Islamic State fighters are being held in prisons controlled by Kurdish-led forces.
It is this captured army of extremists which holds the key to the maniac group’s long term future in the region.
On Saturday, suspected ISIS thugs at a huge prison in al-Hasakah launched an attempted jail break prompting the SDF to deploy special forces soldiers to contain the violence.
The unrest lasted for nearly 24 hours and was the second attempted mass-escape at the facility since March 29.
In both cases, all prisoners who escaped were eventually recaptured.
An NGO official, speaking under condition of anonymity on the ground in Syria, told Sun Online that the extremists are being helped by families in the north east while planning attacks.
He said: “They are back – the resurgence of ISIS is real.
‘THEY ARE BACK’
“They are gathering themselves – especially, in the city of Deryisor they are attacking and killing Kurdish soldiers.
“They are being hidden by families in Raqqa and Derisoyor, and hiding in the Badia desert, and they are planning their attacks and regrouping.
“They have locals who are working with the sleeper cells and they are waiting for orders.”
Speaking of the jail breaks, he said: “Even if half of them escape from prisons, that would have a huge impact on their operations.”
But it is not just the Kurds in the north east who are battling Islamic State militants.
Dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces near Homs in western Syria were involved in a two-day gunfight with the extremists last month.
A total of 32 soldiers died, including 26 ISIS fighters, in the battle which was ended thanks to Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syria has recorded just 45 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the year – a figure which is believed to be much higher in a fractured country with poor healthcare.
And despite having only several hundreds troops on the ground in the region, British forces are still committed to wiping out the “relentless” threat posed by the Islamic State.
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RAF Typhoon jets carried out a bombing raid on six caves in northern Iraq, north east of the town of Bayji on Tuesday last week.
The Ministry of Defence said that about ten militants had been killed in the joint UK-US raid on the tunnel complex in the Hamrin mountains.
While non-essential operations have been scaled down during the coronavirus pandemic, the RAF continues to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions over Iraq and eastern Syria.
Ben Wallace, the UK defence secretary, said: “The strikes continue because the Daesh threat is relentless and so will we be.”