A resurgent Islamic State is set to pose a major UK terror threat, defence experts have warned.
The Islamist group smashed by British and US-backed local forces in Iraq and Syria in 2017 is believed to be behind the twin bombing which killed 32 and injured over 100 in Baghdad this week.
It is feared that the outrage, coming after months of relative calm, could mark the beginning of IS Mark II.
One former UK military intelligence officer told the Mirror: “If they are allowed to gain territory again in Iraq and Syria it has implications for the West.
“We have seen time and time again that an emboldened terror network not on the run will threaten the UK as a junior ally of America.
“There is significant evidence IS is regaining control across Syria and Iraq.”
It is believed there are up to 20,000 heavily armed fighters in Iraq alone, many forming sleeper cells.
The group is known to have a growing war chest worth well over £3 million a month. And its coffers are being added to daily by extortion, kidnap, robbery and murder throughout Iraq, Syria and the wider area.
IS has been emboldened by ex-President Donald Trump ’s withdrawal of US troops from the region.
There are now only 3,000 in Iraq and fewer than 700 in Syria.
And as well as menacing the West, IS and their al-Qaeda-related allies pose a growing threat across West Africa.
Global assessment network Stratfor said the Baghdad market suicide attacks had all the hallmarks of the terror group.
It added: “These bombings strongly resemble past attacks conducted by IS.
“It is the only group with the capability and intent to conduct such an attack against civilians in the Iraqi capital.
“Islamic State was also linked to a January 19 attack on an electronic transmission tower just south of Baghdad.
“This series of assaults highlights an expanding IS presence around the city.”