Why ISIS's Power is Diminishing

Oct 18, 2016

As the attack on the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul begins this week, many eyes will be upon the Iraqi city watching how the terrorist organization will act.

“Well it’s going to be a very intensive and deep battle,” says Malcolm Nance, a counterterrorism and intelligence adviser for the U.S. government’s special operations, homeland security and intelligence agencies. “It’s just a question of whether ISIS is going to put up a fight, or are they going to do a defensive battle and try to fall back to their central caliphate.”

ISIS once seemed unstoppable, controlling large territories of Syria and Iraq. Now the group’s power is shrinking, but why?

“ISIS has defeated ISIS,” says Nance. “ISIS’s establishment of its own caliphate--it’s administrative structure--and then meting out harsh punishments: slavery, abuse, authorized pedophilia, and just horrific mass murder, galvanized virtually every force in the central Middle East.”

Nance, a decorated veteran and former Navy Intelligence officer, is also the author of numerous books. His newest work The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election.

“The first thing that’s most important for people who are listening to this to understand is that the United States was attacked by elements of Russian intel, at the direction of the president of Russia, who’s the former director of the KGB. And they did this in order to facilitate Russia’s own strategic goals of disbanding NATO, breaking up the EU, and allowing Russia to have free reign in Eastern Europe.”

In the first presidential debate, Republican Nominee Donald Trump expressed doubt that we knew for certain that Russia was behind the DNC hacks earlier this year.

“We absolutely do know, he was briefed during his intelligence briefing,” says Nance. “Last week the President of the United States came out and made a public statement with the Director of National intelligence, which means he has consensus of all US intelligence agencies, plus the Director of Homeland Security, that the US has high confidence, that is 90% or greater confidence, that they have evidence that Russia had hacked into these servers.” 

“We put hellfire missiles and cruise missiles into terrorists at 75% confidence.”

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Malcolm Nance. Nance spoke at Iowa State University on October 17th, as part of the Fall 2016 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science.