ISIS is different from other terrorist groups but perhaps not in the same way it is being reported. Some say it is unprecedented in its level of violence, pointing out that its leaders were thrown out of al Qaeda for being too violent. That is a special kind of crazy. Truth is they weren’t thrown out for being to violent but for not submitting themselves to the al Qaeda leadership.
On Wednesday President Obama announced his strategy to fight the ISIS threat. It was a relatively feckless strategy because at the same time he told the ISIS terrorists the bombing campaign would be extended and we will train the moderate Syrians (if they exist) and the Iraqis, he comforted them with the fact that no matter what happens he will never send American combat troops to fight ISIS. While his strategy to start with the Iraqis and the Syrians may be a sound one, ignoring that they may fail and US troops may have to take over puts American citizens in danger and boosts the courage of our enemy as they realize facing the “senior varsity’ is no longer something to worry about.
Certainly ISIS is a violent group, but so is al Qaeda whose public beheading of Daniel Pearl was just as horrific as the beheading of Foley and Sotloff, as is the Palestinian attack on the Fogel family, the Hamas murder of three Israeli boys earlier this summer, or the massacre in Mumbai India.
What really makes ISIS different is that it is more of a single operation, unlike Al Qaeda, which had a core group, surrounded by many “franchise” terrorist groups. As a single entity the “Islamic State,” or whatever they are calling themselves today, has been able to develop a self-sustaining economy, that among other things, makes it the richest terrorist group ever, and able to fund a lot more evil than other terrorists.
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ISIS has taken over large swaths of both Iraq and Syria, and closing in on Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon and eventually Israel. Everywhere it goes it raises money through extortion, oil pirating and kidnapping. This is significant because one of the ways free nations fight terrorists is cutting off their money supply. Since ISIS has its own money, that would be a much more difficult task to accomplish.
On Aug. 28, the Wall Street Journal outlined the emerging financial empire being built by the vicious terrorist group. It is building a self-sustaining economy across the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, by pirating oil and exacting tribute from a native population of at least eight million people.
Pretty soon Qatar won’t be lying when it says it doesn’t help fund ISIS.
Meanwhile, the nations trying to stop ISIS are worried that a clampdown on economic activity that helps fund the group could cause a humanitarian crisis in the already stressed areas it controls.
“Can you prevent ISIS from taking assets? Not really, because they’re sitting on a lot of assets already,” said a Western counterterrorism official. “So you must disrupt the network of trade. But if you disrupt trade in commodities like food, for example, then you risk starving thousands of civilians.”
ISIS controls some oil fields in Syria and Iraq and is selling the oil at distressed rates. Some estimates are they earn about one million American dollars/day of oil revenue.
They sell heavy oil at an average of $26 to $35 a barrel to local merchants, to merchants across the border in Iraq, or to upstart refineries financed by Turkish, Lebanese and Iraqi businessmen, according to Syrians and Lebanese involved in the oil trade.
ISIS terrorists have also implemented an organized-crime type system of business and farm tributes, public-transport fees and protection payments from non-Sunni Muslims who choose to live under the militants rather than flee.
Not only do they have the cash, but they also have the passports. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers explained the problem on the Hugh Hewitt program last week.
“Qaeda pre-9/11 … didn’t have access to the Western passport holders. They had to get pretty creative about how they were going to try to infiltrate people in to get on airplanes in the United States. So imagine, if you have a whole cadre of individuals now that have American passports, or British passports, or German passports, any other waiver country, which means you don’t have to apply for a visa, so it doesn’t get the same kind of scrutiny that you might get from other countries of interest, you know, somebody from Pakistan, for instance [has] to apply for a visa and it’s a whole process to make sure that … extremists from the tribal areas aren’t trying to infiltrate the United States. None of that happens. And so this makes it much more difficult, and much more easy for them to try to plan attacks in the Western world.”
It seems that after his “no strategy” and other gaffes. President Obama seemed to become more serious about the terrorist organization.
But it still took the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff and the will of the American public to him into acting. But he and many of his progressive supporters still don’t understand what he is up against.
When he spoke of ISIS on Wednesday, President Obama insisted that any ground action would consist of the non-existent moderate Syrian Army and the Iraqi troops that just two months ago threw down their weapons and ran from ISIS. What if they fail? ISIS is a threat to America and Americans. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel believe ISIS threatens the United States. During his Wednesday evening speech, President Obama agreed with his cabinet members:
So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States.
The administration has played semantic games since Obama’s speech, parsing their words as not further damage their party’s chances in the Midterms. What may have been the start of a strong effort to defeat ISIS is (based on the latest rhetoric):
A (not) war against the (not) Islamic, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which, according to Press Secretary Earnest they cannot define what constitutes victory but they want it to be like Somalia and Yemen (which are still terrorist states).
It’s time to stop the 1984-like New Speak! The ISIS terrorists are evil barbarians who can’t be negotiated with. US ground troops may be needed if the Syrians and Iraqis fail. In the end ISIS needs to be defeated and destroyed!
Unlike the case of our entry into Iraq eleven years ago, ISIS threatens the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for Americans here at home and overseas. If President Obama cannot put together an alliance where other nations are the lead boots on the ground (and so far his ability to form a coalition seems doubtful). To destroy ISIS somebody has to put troops on the ground. I agree with starting with Syria and Iraq, but “never say never” about American Combat troops when the objective is to protect American’s lives and limbs. Eventually we may have to send more Americans into Iraq and Syria (we already have special forces troops on the ground).
ISIS isn’t lying when they announce their intention to hit us here in the U.S.. And don’t forget they have people with American and European passports in their “army” who can come and go from this country as they please. If that doesn’t work it’s very easy to enter the country through our porous borders.
The first priority of a national government is protecting its citizens, and this President must dedicate himself to do everything it takes. If necessary an American ground war against ISIS would not be an optional war, it would be self-protection.