Sunday, August 24, 2014
ISIL AND THEIR THREATS TO AMERICA:
RISKS MAY BE GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
NYC – WE HAVE SEEN THIS BEFORE
Hand written note from alleged ISIL operative
TAGS: ISIL THREATS, ISIL MEMBERS FROM WESTERN
COUNTRIES, ISIL AS AN ARMY WITH TERRITORY,
ISIL “TOO RADICAL” FOR al QAEDA, NYC SECURITY,
SYRIA, IRAQ, ISIL TACTICS OF BARBARIANS
(Sunday August 24, 2014, NY,NY ) Earlier today retired Four Star General and former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told CNN that in his estimation a terrorist attack on our homeland by the extremist group ISIL that now occupies a large swath of land over Syria and Iraq “will come sooner rather than later.” He continued, "Isis is a very powerful local organization and probably a reasonably powerful regional terrorist organization but it's one that has global ambitions and it has the tools." Considering even the most conservative estimates regarding how many members of ISIL come from Western countries and have “Western passports that allow them to travel back to their home country be it England or the United States”, there may be upwards of 300 such members who are receiving the training and experience to export the ISIL brand of terrorism to their country of origin. That fact and that fact alone should be sufficient motivation to reassess all domestic security measures in our air and sea ports as well as in areas known to have “target rich environments”, such as New York City. Several recent events have illustrated areas of vulnerability in NYC that clearly need to be addressed quickly.
As was the state of effectiveness and efficiency prior to September 11, 2001, we cannot rely on the federal and military intelligence apparatus to be up to their assigned tasks. They have burnt us once before and, as former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had vowed in 2002, “that will never be the case again.” While Bill Bratton has since replaced Kelly, some inside the secretive world of the NYPD Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Divisions, have expressed no small amount of concern over the recent security breaches at the George Washington and Brooklyn Bridges as well as at the Freedom Tower.
INTELLIGENCE FAILURES AT THE CIA
From the Russian aggression in Crimea, to the increasingly violent quagmire in Afghanistan and the rapid rise of the most savage terrorist entity in modern times, ISIL, it is the disturbing fact that each of these events caught our CIA and virtually all of the other 20 or so other “intelligence” units throughout the military, Homeland Security and National Security Agency apparatus once again flatfooted and asleep at the wheel. At this time of escalating threats to our national interests abroad as well as repeated direct messages from ISIL vowing to bring death and destruction to our shores, it has become all too obvious that the pre- 9/11/01 mentality has become endemic among those responsible for our intelligence gathering and analysis. Crisis after crisis seems to have erupted out of a geopolitical vacuum or from the ascendency of a “new” faction of Islamic extremists, jihadists, or some off shoot mutant fundamentalist radicals that have flourished in Syria and Iraq since the withdrawal of United States troops in 2011. Blame Obama, blame Bush, blame whoever you’d like but this is really not the time for the blame game and second guessing. However the powder kegs around the world were initially ignited; by whatever volatile winds of extremist nihilism, xenophobia, religious and ethnic hatred are fanning the raging flames across boarders in the Middle East and the South Asia subcontinent, we find ourselves exactly where we are. Now the monumental task of what to do – of weighing the efficacy of what we can and cannot do – against the heavier danger of doing nothing, is the driving force. Now that the United States has been forced from the torpor of “letting the chips fall where they may” policies after our puppet regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq have spit in our faces year and after year. This Administration will have their hands forced to some additional action beyond bombing strikes, sending in “Military Advisors” (can anyone say Vietnam in 1964) ostensibly to “train up” an inept and disloyal Iraqi military and security force just as has been the failures in similar efforts in Afghanistan.
TERROR AS A TACTIC
By their very nature terrorists aim is to foment terror and fear in their enemies. Terror is the tactic, instilling fear the objective. We have learned so much about terror and asymmetrical warfare since the days after September 11, 2001 yet our government, the Administration with all the many and varied tools at their disposal from aggressive diplomacy, sanctions and military intervention still has the awkward gait of a drunk stumbling from bar to bar on a binge. This Administration has lurched from hotspot to localized flare ups, from drawing red lines and lines in the sand only to stand motionlessly ambivalent as those ultimatums were trampled for the entire world to see.
After three years of brutal civil war in Syria, that shows no indications of ending anytime soon, President Obama was presented with several opportunities to make good on his threats. In each case, except for providing some “overseers” when President Assad’s chemical weapons caches were destroyed, America has done nothing, made no effort to assist those who should be our natural allies, the rebels fighting the Assad regime. No, we are not and cannot be the world’s police force and arms dealer however, there are circumstances to at least demonstrate to our enemies and the wider world that our word still means something and that we are always at the ready to back them up. Ultimatums ignored without reciprocal action leave America looking weak and, if there is one trait we most certainly do not possess, that is “weakness”. Our Military is the best fighting force ever assembled, equipped, trained, and mobile than any other in history.
Now, after over 13 years of continuous warfare in our roaming battle to eradicate and dismantle terrorist sects where ever we locate them, we face an adversary who have mastered the tactic of terror and savagely shown the world exactly what they are capable of and are now directly engaging the United States in an evil propaganda campaign that has finally caught the attention of President Obama and his Administration.
TOO BRUTAL FOR al QAEDA
In the years since al Qaeda launched their wickedly planned and methodically executed attack on America of 9/11/01, it has been determined that there were likely no more than 30 members of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted inner circle, including the 19 hijackers, who had a role in the planning, plotting and financing of that operation or had any prior knowledge about the bigger picture. As is the case with most successful “underground” terrorist groups, the watchword for the brand of tradecraft they practice is one of compartmentalization. By rigorous adherence to this principal, no one person in the groups or terrorist cell knows anyone outside their small cell and they certainly have little or no “actionable intelligence” or simple information regarding the chain of command, operational structure, and ultimately, the plot they are expected to carry out. al Qaeda became masters of communicating via couriers who were just links in a chain unaware of any other links besides perhaps the links they were positioned between in a long serpentine chain that spanned from the Middle East to the rugged Afghanistan – Pakistan border region. We witnessed what this committed cadre of a few dozen well financed zealots where able to accomplish.
The unbridled savagery the world is witnessing today at the hands of a group that has come to be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was spawned in Syria, has rampaged their way through northern Iraq, seizing cities, towns, villages while practicing some of the most widespread, unchecked barbarism the world has seen in modern history. There has never been an organization quite like ISIL. One significant difference between ISIL and their one-time supporters, al Qaeda, is that they constitute an army, and a very well equipped, organized army at that. Several months ago al Qaeda officially severed their ties with ISIL stating that they were too brutal for their tastes and that says quite a bit about ISIL’s tactics, ideology, and objectives. They are determined to create a modern day “Caliphate” in the Middle East. They also control some of the most valuable of Iraq’s oil and natural gas infrastructure and by most accounts, they are reaping approximately $1 million a day from the sales of those precious resources.
While al Qaeda was rapidly scattered after our Military routed the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan by December 2001, ISIL is by their own definition a nation-state. They are not living in warrens of caves nor are they hiding their actions and intentions from the world; quite the contrary. They are using social media to spread their message and to evoke the level of fear throughout the Middle East and the Western world that even at their heyday, al Qaeda was unable to. ISIL has conducted atrocities including genocide against minority Christians sects in the north of Iraq, have raped, pillaged, mass executed and buried alive those unfortunate enough to be in their forward march towards Baghdad and into central Iraq. The gruesome videotaped execution of American journalist, James Foley, who had been missing since Thanksgiving 2012, was broadcast to the world along with a very direct message to President Obama and Americans at large.
A WAR WITHIN
ISIL is composed of Sunni Muslims, the denomination that had long been oppressed and often violently suppressed by the Shi’ite Muslim dominated regime of Saddam Hussein. But ISIL is more than a Sunni insurgency having risen to the de facto “government” in the vast areas under their iron-fisted rule from Syria to Iraq. In their assessment, the traditional border between those two countries no longer exists; they view it as an embryonic Caliphate with their ambitions growing day by day. In a cruel twist of fate, virtually all of their military hardware and technology is American made and had been provided to the regime that followed the fall of Hussein. The Iraqi “army” if one can even call it that despite our having spent well over $750 million to “equip and train” them, abandoned their posts leaving behind all their equipment as ISIL pushed towards them.
The majority of those who ISIL has killed have been other Muslims. Some Middle East experts have noted that they (ISIL) are only “Sunni in name”; that their barbaric savagery can in no way be justified in the Koran; not even in its most extreme interpretations.
Like every other terrorist from Iraq to Yemen, from Somali to Afghanistan possessed of whatever radical extremist affiliation or ideology, ISIL is determined to draw us into a direct fight with them in the territory they control as well as perpetrate acts of terrorism here in the United States. General Hayden’s comments from this morning were particularly alarming given the amount of knowledge and information he brings to the table as a commentator. After the beheading of the American journalist James Foley late last week, someone in some way associated with ISIL Tweeted two photographs of buildings in Chicago. One of the tweets showed a hand written note in Arabic that was a warning to America that they are “already here.” We have also seen video clips of purported high ranking ISIL operatives claiming their desire “To fight our troops, the same troops we humiliated before in Iraq” and to “Raise the flag if ISIL on top of the White House.” These might appear of their face as ludicrous attempts to evoke fear among us but, we cannot forget that several times between 1997 and 2000 Osama bin Laden “declared war” on the United States adding that he “will not differentiate between soldiers and civilians.” The intelligence community, except for one man in the CIA, Michael Scheuer, who had served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center, paid attention. For all the ensuing talk after 9/11/01 about “connecting the dots”, sharing information freely among agencies, and the endemic failures that had run rampant throughout the federal government, is becoming alarmingly evident that some lessons may not have been learned as well as they should have been.
Let’s hope we don’t have to once again find out the hard way.
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