While ISIS is being driven from Kobani, Syria by Kurdish fighters, it is expanding its reach beyond Iraq and Syria into nearly a dozen countries, military officials and analysts warn.
The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, warned during congressional testimony yesterday that the “security challenges” the US faces are “more diverse and complex than those we have experienced in our lifetimes.” Stewart delivered his remarks to the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing devoted to assessing worldwide threats.
ISIS has surfaced in North Africa.
“With affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the group is beginning to assemble a growing international footprint that includes ungoverned and under governed areas,” Stewart said.
He continued, “In 2015, we expect ISIL to continue its outreach to other elements of the global extremist movement, and to continue benefitting from a robust foreign terrorist fighter flow.”
ISIS holds territory in Iraq and Syria that is one-third of the region. They are believed to have 20,000 to 40,000 fighters in possibly as many as three dozen countries and their reach is continuing to consume other nations with weak governments.
ISIS is thriving in the vacuums which in many cases were created by Barack Obama – in Iraq and Libya to name two.
“ISIS, like Al Qaeda, has thrived in the failed states where there is a vacuum of power,” said James Phillips, Middle East senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation.
Iraq’s future without outside intervention is bleak.
“Defeats of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the collapse of multiple army divisions highlight large-scale institutional deficiencies within the ISF. Several of the more concerning deficiencies include poor logistics and endemic corruption that has bred ineffective commanders and poor morale. Force generation efforts will be complicated by a lack of experienced and qualified soldiers. Local and tribal pro-government forces suffer from similar supply and manning shortages.”
Afghanistan is in grave danger as Barack Obama plans to pull all troops out in 2016.
Defense secretary nominee Ashton Carter, who could not describe Barack Obama’s strategy, said he would consider changing plans for withdrawing the remaining 10,600 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 if security conditions further deteriorate.
Terrorist groups in Pakistan, the Philippines, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Indonesia, Jordan and elsewhere have pledged formal support for ISIS.
The largest groups are still al Qaeda but many are moving towards ISIS.
“Al-Qa‘ida core is now focused on physical survival following battlefield losses. At the same time, the group is trying to retain its status as the vanguard of the global extremist movement, being eclipsed now by ISIL’s rising global prominence and powerful competition for adherents. Despite the fracturing of the global extremist movement, al-Qa‘ida core in Pakistan continues to retain the loyalty of its global affiliates in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa, Syria, and South Asia.”
An ISIS-tied group in Egypt recently killed at least two dozen security officers in restive Sinai.
The ISIS-tied Caliphate Soldiers Group in Algeria kidnapped and beheaded a French tourist in January in revenge.
In Libya, the Islamic State’s Tripoli Province took credit for a hotel attack on Feb. 1 which killed nine people, including an American.
Published reports tie other groups to ISIS including The Jundallah militant group and the Tehreek-e-Khilafat groups in Pakistan; the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf group; Sinai Province in Egypt; Lebanon’s The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade; Indonesia’s Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid; and Sons of the Call for Tawhid and Jihad in Jordan.
The United States has focused on Kobani but ISIS has multiplied their land holdings fourfold in the meantime and have reached into countries as far away as Africa.
Their propaganda videos such as the one of the pilot being burned alive in a cage garners more sociopaths to their cause. It’s a real recruitment tool.
Al Qaeda and ISIS sometimes work together and their common enemies are the U.S. and Israel.
Al Qaeda remains an increasingly dangerous threat to the United States according to Stewart’s written testimony with affiliates also a serious concern.
Al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains committed to attacking the West, probably by targeting commercial aviation with innovative explosives.
Al-Qa‘ida in Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) recently increased efforts to expand its operating areas across North and West Africa by working with, and through, other regional terrorist groups. AQIM almost certainly continues to plan attacks and kidnapping operations against U.S. allies in the region.
The Khorasan Group is a cadre of experienced al-Qa‘ida operatives that works closely with and relies upon al-Nusrah Front to provide personnel and space for training facilities in northwestern Syria. The group is primarily focused on transnational terrorist attack plotting. Coalition airstrikes in Syria probably killed a number of senior al-Nusrah Front and Khorasan Group operatives, but the group almost certainly has maintained some capability to continue plotting against Western interests.
Al-Nusrah and Khorasan are basically the same group.
China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba remain dangerous threats to the U.S. and U.S. interests according to DIA along with extremists forces inside Pakistan, drug trafficking from Latin America, and threats from inside Somalia and Nigeria.
Stewart writes that Global threats to “U.S. space systems and services will increase as potential adversaries pursue disruptive and destructive counterspace capabilities. Rapidly evolving commercial space technology will support the global pursuit of enhanced space and counterspace capabilities that may narrow the technological gap with the U.S.”
The global war on terror is alive and well, we just can’t say it exists or attempt to do much about it.
It has grown exponentially in the vacuum of leadership left by our listless president who gets fired up over a perceived snub by Netanyahu but can’t muster any enthusiasm for stopping the spread of terror organizations that want to kill us.
This isn’t only about ISIS or al-Qaeda. It’s much broader and more dangerous than that. It’s about the spread of a violent global jihad based on radical Islam.
They are in the United States – in 49 of the 50 states: