Two-Year US Campaign More Than Doubles ISIS’ Reach

2014 Offensive Against ISIS Started Major Growth of Affiliates Abroad

While ISIS remains the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it’s got an increasingly global reach, with affiliates in an ever-increasing number of countries, and cells across Western Europe launching attacks at a growing rate. A new White House briefing laid out the grim facts.

At the time the US launched the war against ISIS in 2014, the group had a presence in seven nations worldwide. Suddenly being at war with the United States and a huge coalition gave the group a major boost in international credibility, and got them on the radar in more countries.

By 2015, the State Department estimated that ISIS had a presence in 13 countries, and the latest briefing showed 18 “fully operational” ISIS countries in the world, meaning it’s well more than doubled since the US war began. The briefing also added six more countries where ISIS is “taking root.”

While the US continues to present ISIS in Iraq and Syria as being on the ropes in the face of growing offensives, the group’s presence in both countries remains substantial, and with ISIS franchises cropping up the world over, the US may wind up expanding into even more nations, with strikes beginning in Libya just this week, chasing an ISIS group that has benefited massively from being designated America’s enemy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.