Islamic State Is Dying on the Battlefield—and Winning on the Internet

By Romesh Ratnesar

After Iraqi forces reclaimed control of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, on July 10, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “total victory” over Islamic State. The American commander of the global ­coalition to defeat the group, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said the loss of Mosul had dealt a ­“decisive blow” to the terrorist organization. With U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters preparing to capture Raqqa, the terrorists’ stronghold in Syria, President Donald Trump predicted “the total destruction of ISIS.”

Three years since the insurgent group declared the establishment of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria, it faces military defeat. Islamic State no longer possesses a base of operations from which to coordinate sophisticated attacks. The group’s estimated annual revenue has plummeted, from almost $2 billion in 2014 to less than $870 million in 2016.\