The Islamic State 2020: The Year in Review

2020 was not supposed to be a good year for the Islamic State. In March 2019, US President Trump declared victory over the group after its defeat in Baghouz, Syria, and in October it lost its caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and spokesman, Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir. Yet, here on the last day of the year, we can conclude that the Islamic State is far from defeated and that 2020 was in fact quite a positive year for the group. It is hard to say whether the Islamic State is better off now than it was a year ago. That is not really the purpose of this article. While the group continues to be under pressure in the Levant and to face strong pressure in places like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines, 2020 has been the year the Islamic State truly cemented its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa. One measure of the

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