Rep. Kinzinger: Terror Attacks Will Continue Long After ISIS Destroyed

A general view shows a burnt out vehicle next to a banner bearing the Islamic State group's flag
A general view shows a burnt out vehicle next to a banner bearing the Islamic State group's flag / Getty Images

Terrorist attacks are sure to continue long after ISIS ceases to be a credible threat, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) said at a discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.

Called "After the ISIS Flag Falls: The Future of Mosul and Iraq," the discussion concerned America’s long-term vision for the region, once the organized threat of the ISIS insurgents has ceased.

Kinzinger said that the religious appeal of ISIS not be discounted, he pointed out that "the military cannot defeat the mindset" that drew fighters to the radical Islamic cause.

Young refugees from the Middle East, Kinzinger noted, could be the next generation of killers, or they could be the generation that fixes everything if they are given hope. America had a God-given mission to provide such hope to other nations, Kinzinger explained. Although the city of Mosul is likely to fall soon, final victory over ISIS will not come rapidly. The unique resources of the United States, however, should be used to extend the help, both military and nonmilitary, that will bring about that victory.

Col. Michael Kershaw, a former U.S. military commander in Iraq, pointed out the improved situation for the United States, from 55 deaths in combat a few years ago to only one fatality recently.

Sarhang Hamasaeed of the United States Institute of Peace spoke on the ongoing power that ISIS will have even after the fall of Mosul, particularly with the constant threat of Suni revolt. In 2014 ISIS killed 1,700 people with online broadcasts for people to watch.

James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation agreed that stabilizing a postwar government has been difficult and will not become easier simply because Mosul has fallen. With its endemic corruption and the citizens’ lack of trust in government, Iraq can easily fall to the chaos of underground terrorism. Phillips ended with a few recommendations for reforming Iraq. He suggested restricting the roles of Shiite militias. He insisted that Americans need to recognize that Iran is part of the problem, and that the Iranian government is causing more harm than good. And he noted that the friction with the Kurdish population must be eased.

None of the speakers at the Heritage Foundation proposed full solutions to the problems facing Iraq, and none of them had easy answers to the worries posed by the conference. But all of them noted that now is the moment in which both Iraq and the United States need to work on strategy for the next stage of the struggle. The pressing question for American foreign policy is what comes next, after ISIS is defeated.