A maddening admission from an administration that really doesn’t seem to give a crap about anything, and also seems perfectly content to have that known: Obama administration knew Islamic State was growing but did little to counter it:
In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.
The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it.
The group’s operations “are calculated, coordinated and part of a strategic campaign led by its Syria-based leader, Abu Bakr al Baghadi,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee on Feb. 5, four months before fighting broke out in Mosul. “The campaign has a stated objective to cause the collapse of the Iraqi state and carve out a zone of governing control in western regions of Iraq and Syria.”
The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State’s ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?
In fresh testimony before Congress this week, McGurk revealed that the administration knew three days in advance that the attack on Mosul was coming. He acknowledged that the Islamic State is no longer just a regional terrorist organization but a “full-blown” army that now controls nearly 50 percent of Iraq and more than one-third of Syria. Its fighters have turned back some of the best-trained Iraqi units trying to retake key cities, while in Syria, it’s seized nearly all that country’s oil and natural gas fields and is pushing the Syrian military from its last outposts in the country’s east.
“What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.
Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.
Read the whole story, and you’re just going to get angrier and angrier. For once, we had the intelligence.
It was only after Islamic State assaults in December on the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi that the administration began stepping up military aid to Baghdad. It sent unarmed spy drones and 75 Hellfire missiles _ which had to be dropped from propeller-driven passenger planes _ for use against Islamic State bases in western Iraq.
And the United States has yet to deliver helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq already had purchased. It also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, some 300 of whom were dispatched only after Mosul fell.
While there are many reasons for the Obama administration’s failure to tackle the rise of the Islamic State earlier, lacking intelligence is not among them.
By early 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies began delivering more than a dozen top-secret high-level reports, known as strategic warnings, to senior administration officials detailing the danger posed by the Islamic State’s rise, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. The reports also covered the threat to Europe and the United States from the return of thousands of battle-hardened foreign fighters, including dozens of Americans, who’d fought to topple Assad.
Intelligence analysts well into this year “continued to provide strategic warning of (the) increasing threat to Iraq’s stability . . . the increasing difficulties Iraq’s security forces faced . . . and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq’s declining stability,” said the senior U.S. intelligence official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive issue.
Ed Morrissey has more and notes that time is running out for Christians in Iraq:
The Christians in Mosul have already fled, and those remaining in Nineveh and other areas of Iraq have until Saturday to make their choice to pay jizya, convert, or be put to death. While ISIS conducts an ethno-religious cleansing of Iraq, the ancient Christian communities there wonder when the West will at least speak out
Folks need to understand just how serious this is, just how big this story is — not the Obama administration doing nothing; disinterest is what we’ve come to expect — but the dearth of media coverage belies the fact that this ISIS aggression will soon enough become a central reality in many lives, including ours. This movement is not going to stay “over there”; it’s going to spread everywhere. And the absence of any sort of clear message that the world’s superpowers object to this? It’s tacit permission.
Instapundit writes what I prefer to think of as cynical snark, because anything else is too reckless to contemplate: “It’s like they wanted Iraq and Syria to go this way.”
Obama still hasn’t said one word about the purging and terrorizing of Christians and Shiite Muslims by ISIS. As even children know, silence implies consent.
Oh, wait, I’m wrong! Back in January, when asked about the growth of Islamic State, Obama was himself:
“if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant…
there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
Yeah, you know what the distinction is? Bin Laden was a Western-educated terrorist looking for the big statement but lacking a substantive plan beyond mayhem. ISIS is a home-grown movement — “calculated, coordinated” per our intel, and apparently well-funded — seeking caliphate. Who is going to stop them? Turkey? Europe?
The unchecked, unprotested aggression of ISIS — now called “Islamic State” — is the story to watch; unlike the border immigration story, or the perennial Gaza headlines, this is the story that will go global, while the people in power do little, say nothing.
“It indicates they are going for total eradication not just of their enemies but even of the possibility of people living together under their rule,” he told the paper.
WaPo is catching on:
The problem: In Iraq, the Islamic State is advancing. If it’s willing to destroy anything other religions — even other Muslims — hold sacred, what’s next?
“Basically pretty much anything in the Bible,” Hardy said.
What can be done?
“If we didn’t intervene when they were killing people, it would be kind of grotesque to intervene over a building,” Hardy said.
Perhaps the Islamic State will stop on its own?
Sure, they will, because these seem like reasonable people: Militants Order Female Genital Mutilation in Iraq