In March 2019, Islamic State officially lost its caliphate. The last remaining sliver of territory under its control was overtaken by Coalition forces, and US President Donald Trump declared the militant group “100% defeated”.
Yet Islamic State remains defiant. Its reclusive leader has made two public pronouncements encouraging his followers since the fall of the caliphate. It retains affiliate networks around the world, and in the wake of its defeat, it committed one of the largest terrorist attacks ever – the Easter Bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
But what does Islamic State mean without its caliphate, and in what ways does the organisation still pose a global threat? How are we to deal with the thousands of supporters, mostly women, who remain held with their children in camps run by Syrian Democratic Forces? How has Islamic State managed to maintain its presence in Asia while it has lost its caliphate? Has Asia become a new growth area for the group after its decline in the Middle East?
Daniel Flitton, the Managing Editor of the Lowy Institute's digital magazine, The Interpreter, discussed these questions and more with Lowy Institute Research Fellow Lydia Khalil, following her latest analysis on the future of Islamic State.