Beyond the Cusp

June 26, 2014

ISIS Revealed in Congressional Research Service Report

The news reports have depicted the relative ease with which the former al-Qaeda offshoot and now solo terrorist army ISIS has sliced their way clearing a large swath across the Sunni dominated central regions of Iraq from Mosul southward and now closing in on Baghdad. There have been comparisons between the ease with which ISIS forces have conquered areas which took the United States many long months to clear out and liberate. Some have even spent some time informing the readers that the ISIS troops are the reanimated remnants of those forces that the United States defeated in those very same areas during the surge and in other fighting. The commander of the ISIS forces is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of the persons held by United States forces and released in 2009 from the United States Camp Bucca which was located near Umm Qasr in Iraq. In many ways this story of his release is somewhat misleading and because of the date of his release there are those placing the blame on President Obama but because all of the detainees in Camp Bucca were transferred into Iraqi control by an agreement in 2008 others have placed the blame with President George W. Bush. So, what is the truth in this sordid mess? Well, neither of the two Presidents of the United States placed any hard restrictions against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being released as he was not of any particular importance and did not hold a senior position or command any forces back in 2008 through 2009 so there was no particular reason to detain him over any other detainee. The people who did permit his release were the Iraqis so if anybody must be placed in the limelight for having released the man who has risen into the position of the most feared and potentially dangerous terrorist leader in the world, I guess it would have to be the same man who is now most threatened by his approaching forces, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Sometimes the natural order in which events play out do actually hold the guilty to be threatened when the rooster comes home to roost, or the terrorist leads his army to your doorstep.


This leads us to the report provided to Congress by their research arm, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the present situation and probable future ramifications of the perceived threats. According to the June 20 report CRS asserts that, “Several leading representatives of the U.S. intelligence community have stated that ISIS maintains training camps in Iraq and Syria, has the intent to attack the United States and is reportedly recruiting and training individuals to do so.” Their report also quotes al-Baghdadi making a threat quoting his declarations where he stated, “Know, O defender of the Cross, that a proxy war will not help you in the Levant, just as it will not help you in Iraq. Soon, you will be in direct conflict, Allah permitting, against your will.” Back to the CRS report, it further states, “ISIS attempts to assert control over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, and its June 2014 offensive in northern Iraq underscored the group’s lethality and ability to conduct combat operations and manage partnerships with local groups in multiple areas over large geographic distances.”


Retired Army officer and military analyst Robert Maginnis talked about how ISIS has prepared to execute such attacks in Western nations, especially within Europe and the United States stating, “It already has many hundreds of jihadists with Western nation passports. Those battle-proven jihadists will eventually return to their Western homelands to carry on the jihad using the violent ways learned in Syria and Iraq. And now that ISIS controls a giant swath of the Middle East, the Western jihadists have a training platform, financing and a cheerleading state sponsor.” Another pertinent set of comments came from spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby pointed out, “If you look at the map of Iraq, I mean, sort of the central swath going from north of Samarra around Tikrit all the way up to Mosul, that’s ISIS controlled territory, by and large, and we’re seeing them try to solidify those gains and to continue to threaten Baghdad. That’s kind of the general lay down.” In its conclusion, the CRS report stated, “The offensive in northern and central Iraq, led by the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group ISIS, has raised significant concerns for the United States. These concerns include a possible breakup of Iraq’s political and territorial order and the establishment of a potential base for terrorist attacks in the region or even against the U.S. homeland.”


So, what can be concluded from all of these commentaries, reports and other information? The most obvious item is that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has memories of his stay as a guest of the American military at Camp Bucca in Iraq and some of those memories are apparently not the most pleasant. We do not know and likely will never know whether or not he drew any special interest by the CIA and whether he had faced any special handling and questioning. Where the lack of any reported concern or importance being noted thus far we might believe that his detention was no worse or better than any other detainee. Still, al-Baghdadi has a real special hatred for the United States and appears to have special plans for vengeance or simply a strong desire for payback. We also can deduce that he is a person who is driven and knows how to accomplish the goals he sets for himself and those whom he leads and that his troops are highly motivated. As for their level of training, it has been obvious by the assaults made in Iraq and Syria by ISIS that the followers of ISIS are very well trained in explosives and the many forms of terrorist bombing techniques. As for their level of war fighting, we know they had no difficulty defeating the Iraqi military units they faced but reports of those confrontations said more about the lack of motivation and ability by the Iraqi military than they displayed any real abilities of the ISIS terrorist troops. With the dispatch of United States Special Forces trainers, intelligence personnel, logistics oversight and tactical officers, we can hope to see how well the ISIS units perform against determined and motivated military units. Unfortunately for the United States advisors and support personnel being deployed, I have my doubts about the efficiency and abilities of the Iraqi forces. The fact that tens of thousands of Iraqi troops stripped off their uniforms, threw down their weapons and abandoned their heavy weapons along with their armored vehicles and then attempted to blend in with the civilian surroundings does not bode well for the competence of the Iraqis. The cowardice displayed by the Iraqi troops could easily lead one to believe that there was some conspiratorial complicity between the Iraqi troops deployed in the Sunni areas and the ISIS forces which would permit the outright gifting of their equipment and other military assets to ISIS. The slaughtering of so many civilians and presumed troops does place such a theory into doubt and we will never know the truth as dead men tell no tales and those who survived will very likely not desire to present themselves as evidence or witness for fear of retribution from one side or the other.


We have also been granted a peek into the measures taken by the forces of ISIS and much of their looting and stealing of cash, gold, silver and other precious items from the banks and stores in Mosul depict well regulated troops who have very good intelligence and have a well figured set of protocols which will maximize their ability to gather funds which can be used to advance their cause and father them more advanced equipment and arms. We are not made aware if ISIS is receiving monetary assistance from the Sunni oil rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and others even if such funds were only provided for their efforts in Syria and against Iran and Hezballah. We are aware that they are fanatical and quite willing to murder anybody they meet who they determine are not as religious and devout as they would demand. This was made so very evident by the hundreds if not thousands that they had murdered claiming they had transgressed against Sharia. The one apparent sign of weakness has been the unwillingness or just plain lack of desire on the part of ISIS to tackle the Kurdish militias in the north beyond Mosul and the fact that the Kurdish units were capable of recapturing Kirkuk from ISIS forces. We do know the level of training and proficiency of the Kurdish Peshmarga, and their motivation is almost off the charts high and they have no intention in giving up one inch of the lands they currently hold and may very well prove to be the most proficient troops in fighting against the ISIS terrorists.


The other reality we have gained is that ISIS will try to find any means available to attack and injure the United States, both military and civilian targets. Should ISIS take control of a large segment of Iraq then they would have their own area which could act as an actual nation but a nation run by terrorist forces of ISIS much like Lebanon is currently run by Hezballah who have taken control of the government and now also run much of the Lebanese military units. In some ways the fact that Iran is now finding it necessary to fight to save Iraq from the ISIS terrorist military is a special form of payback as it was Iran who financed and assisted al-Qaeda, including the precursors for ISIS when these terrorists were fighting the United States forces during the American efforts in Iraq. So now it looks as if Iranian military forces will be required to fight against the very monster their government created in the efforts to cripple the United States after they overthrew Saddam Hussein. The one fear which should have the majority of Americans watching every deployment of United States military forces is the slow but steady increase of personnel into Iraq. They need to remember that Viet Nam started long before President Johnson escalated the deployment to the massive levels at the climax of the war in Viet Nam with advisors sent to simply train and provide intelligence by President Eisenhower in the late 1950s. The other disaster which at least currently does not appear possible would be the temporary unification between Sunni and Shiites bringing ISIS and Iran troops, including the Iran sponsored terrorists all in one large assault on the West in Europe and the United States. There has been evidence indicating that Iran has plans in place for attacks against the United States and now this evidence that ISIS shares that desire makes one wonder if these two might not simply work together in order to destroy the western nations and their technological advantages. With the United States currently appearing to be in remission, the possibility for these terrorist entities to cooperate increasing their relative strength may not be as impossible as the media would want us to believe. Even if it were the slightest of possibilities, it would be prudent to watch and be prepared should such an alliance be cobbled together, then seeking allies at the last minute would be too little too late. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” a truism stated by Thomas Jefferson.


Beyond the Cusp


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