Just because Islamic State is losing physical territory in the Middle East doesn’t mean the terrorist threat will dissipate.
That’s the view of Australian National University terrorism propaganda expert Haroro Ingram.
The terrorist group has lost 73 per cent of the territory it once held in Iraq and 65 per cent in Syria since 2015.
“They are going to place their propaganda machine at the forefront of their efforts to survive,” Dr Ingram said.
“We need to be far more sophisticated in how we confront this propaganda than we have in the past.”
In a speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Canberra on Wednesday he argued IS would not retreat into a “virtual caliphate”.
“Let’s be clear, IS know that to survive it can’t hide in cyberspace until it is safe to come out,” he said.
As long as IS is acting somewhere in the world its propaganda arm will seek to promote small actions as epic battles and looming success, he said.
Dr Ingram warned Australia could be an important target in such a campaign.
He pointed out the latest issue of an IS flagship magazine featured an article purportedly written by an Australian woman who travelled to the Middle East to live under the caliphate.
He said the situation in Marawi, in the Philippines demonstrated IS deployed networks in different locations to stretch the focus and resources of its enemies.
“If we are not co-coordinating our efforts trans-nationally, we may be contributing to the conditions they require to survive and perhaps rise again,” Dr Ingram said.