Hillary’s Libya Debacle

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Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, July 13, 2016:

Colin Powell’s famous words, “You break it, you own it,” are coming back to haunt Hillary Clinton. Powell said those words in cautioning President George W. Bush about the harsh unintended consequences that could result from the military action to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which Hillary voted to support while in the Senate. As Secretary of State, Hillary forgot all about Colin Powell’s prescient warning. She became the prime mover within the Obama administration for military action to forcibly remove Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi. In fact, upon learning of his death at the hands of a mob, Hillary Clinton exulted. Paraphrasing Julius Caesar, Hillary proclaimed on Oct. 20, 2011:  “We came, we saw, he died.”

What followed the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime, however, was utter chaos, not the smooth transition to a pluralistic democracy that Hillary had naively envisioned. Indeed, the anarchy that ensued has created a dire strategic threat to the United States and its Western and Arab allies that had not existed during the last years of Gaddafi’s reign. Especially after Gaddafi announced the end of his nuclear weapons program in December 2003 and followed through with allowing the removal of nuclear materials thereafter, his regime posed no strategic threat to U.S. national security.

No doubt Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, who sought to ruthlessly put down the rebellion that threatened his rule. However, his death and the end of his regime, which Hillary celebrated, fixed nothing.

Robert Gates, Obama’s Defense Secretary at the time, along with other senior leaders in the Obama administration such as Vice President Joseph Biden and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, foresaw the dangers of an ill-planned U.S. military intervention without a realistic plan for a peaceful transition. They warned against it. But Hillary’s call for intervention won out.  She persuaded a reluctant President Obama to enter the fray in support of our European and Arab allies on humanitarian grounds.

Hillary spent countless hours shuttling among foreign capitals to shore up what became a NATO-led coalition against Gaddafi’s regime.  She engineered the passage of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force in Libya to protect the vulnerable civilian population, which she apparently interpreted to authorize outright regime change. Hillary had personally met with the chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and other Libyans who might become a part of a successor regime. Her top aide Jake Sullivan explained Hillary’s confidence in these leaders’ ability to bring the various factions in the country together to form a relatively stable, democratic and inclusive post-Gaddafi transitional government. He said Hillary had received written pledges to bring about just such a transition from the Transitional National Council.

In a succession of e-mails, Hillary’s senior aides at the State Department, and her informal outside confidante Sidney Blumenthal, sang her praises for leading the implementation of the Libyan strategy she had pushed Obama to accept.

“First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”

Hillary chomped at the bit to take credit for what she initially regarded as a great success in Libya when things seemed to be going well. She sent an e-mail to her top aide at the State Department, Jake Sullivan, forwarding Blumenthal’s recommendation. “Pls read below,” Hillary wrote. “Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Q[addafi] goes, which will make it more dramatic.”

Sycophant Sullivan wrote back, “it might make sense for you to do an op-ed to run right after he falls, making this point. You can reinforce the op-ed in all your appearances, but it makes sense to lay down something definitive, almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”

Sullivan had already written an e-mail to two other high level State Department officials, Cheryl Mills and Victoria Nuland, just a day before the above-mentioned Blumenthal e-mail, effusively praising his boss for her leadership role in steering Obama administration policy on Libya. “HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings — as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.”

Sullivan then laid out a detailed chronology of all the actions Hillary had taken to accomplish her mission.

However, Hillary’s mission turned into a strategic disaster.  Weapons in the hands of non-state actors, including jihadists, were spreading from Libya across national borders to help further inflame conflicts in Mali, Syria, and elsewhere. Migrants were using Libya as a disembarkation point to try and reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea in overwhelming numbers. Armed militias fought each other within Libya, while rival governments were formed. Anti-American jihadists, who benefitted from the outcome of the ‘Clinton Doctrine” in Libya, filled the power vacuum. The tragic result was the terrorist attack in Benghazi that took four Americans’ lives on September 11, 2012, including the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Just as Hillary was, in the words of FBI Director James Comey, “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information on her private e-mail system, she was reckless in ignoring clear warning signals leading up to the deadly September 11th Benghazi terrorist attack. Indeed, in addition to threats, there were previous terrorist attacks, including one in June 2012 against the U.S. consulate compound itself and another the same month hitting a convoy carrying the British ambassador. The British decided to evacuate from Benghazi. Yet Hillary pressed on to establish a permanent U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens took his fateful trip to Benghazi in September 2012 in part to advance Hillary’s plan. “At least one of the reasons he was in Benghazi was to further the secretary’s wish that that post become a permanent constituent post and also there because we understood the secretary intended to visit Tripoli later in the year,” Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks testified to a Congressional committee in 2013.

Multiple requests from people on the ground in Libya for more security, including some from Ambassador Stevens himself, were sent to the State Department prior to the September 11, 2012 attack.  Stevens’ last diary entry was “never ending security threats.”  Somehow the security concerns never reached Hillary’s desk. She told the House Benghazi Committee that “I was not responsible for specific security requests.”  But Hillary’s attempt to wash her hands of any responsibility raises more questions than it answers.

Hillary said that Stevens was a friend. She had, in her words, “hand-picked” Stevens for what she knew was a highly dangerous post even as her so-called Clinton Doctrine unraveled. By her own account, there was “lawlessness” in Benghazi, which she said Stevens had been aware of. Yet she never bothered to reach out to him directly to ask whether there was sufficient security for the mission she had hand-picked her friend to carry out.  She simply said that Stevens knew the risks and “felt comfortable” with conditions on the ground. One phone call or e-mail directly to her personal friend would have informed her of Stevens’ concerns over the “never ending security threats.” Hillary had not even provided Stevens with her cell phone number, fax number or personal e-mail address in case he needed to reach her. Apparently, Hillary had less compunctions about giving out that contact information to Blumenthal.

Through her reckless indifference to the security needs of Stevens and other Americans who became caught in the terrorist attack at the Benghazi facility that she wanted to make permanent, Hillary Clinton for all intents and purposes left them there unprotected to face the deadly consequences. She then lied to the families of the victims of the attack, telling them that an obscure anti-Muslim video was the cause of the attack when she knew at the time that the attack was a coordinated, pre-meditated act of jihadist terrorism. And she doubled down on her reckless indifference – literally – a year later at a Senate hearing with her infamous remark: “What difference at this point does it make?”

As she runs to become the next president and commander-in-chief, Hillary Clinton is trying to disown what she broke in Libya. Her recklessness and indifference to the consequences of her actions, as well as her lies to cover up her mistakes, follow the same pattern as her e-mail debacle and should disqualify her from the presidency.

Also see:

US Africa commander nominee: No ‘grand strategy’ to confront ISIS in Libya

694940094001_4767639608001_4a564451-fa49-46bd-853b-f20a3b171636Fox News, By Lucas Tomlinson, June 21, 2016:

The general tapped to lead U.S. Africa Command told Capitol Hill lawmakers Tuesday he did not know of any “overall grand strategy” to defeat ISIS in Libya.

Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser made the comments under questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.

“I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point,” Waldhauser said.

The statement comes a week after CIA Director John Brennan delivered a stark warning to Congress about the growth of ISIS fighters around the world. He estimated the group has 5,000-8,000 fighters inside Libya.

During Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Waldhauser if those ISIS fighters could one day conduct attacks against Europe.

“Eventually they could, yes,” he replied.

Waldhauser is the nominee to be U.S. commander of Africa Command, but has not been confirmed yet.

He also said Tuesday he would not have the authority, as the top U.S. commander in Africa, to go after ISIS targets on his own inside Africa, while suggesting “it would be wise” to hit those targets.

The U.S. military has carried out two airstrikes inside Libya since late last year.

Two U.S. F-15E jet fighters flying out of Lakenheath, England, likely killed the ISIS leader in Libya, Abu Nabil, in mid-November. The Iraqi national was a longtime Al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIS leader in Libya, according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.

In February, U.S. jets also bombed an ISIS training camp in Libya, killing a senior ISIS leader and an estimated 30 ISIS recruits fighters on the ground.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News at the time that the target of the airstrike was Noureddine Chouchane, a senior ISIS figure in Libya who was likely killed.

The airstrike on the ISIS base in Sabratha, Libya, was also carried out by F-15s flying from England. Local reports initially suggested more than 30 people had been killed. However, it was not immediately clear how many ISIS terrorists were among the dead.

Adding to the concern in the West is evidence that the number of ISIS fighters in Libya is increasing, according to America’s top spy.

CIA Director Brennan said last week the estimated 5,000-8,000 ISIS fighters on the ground are up from an estimated 2,000-5,000 in February.

The U.S. military has deployed a small number of U.S. special operations forces there in the past few months, according to Cook.

Waldhauser said no more troops are needed at this moment.

Asked afterward by Fox News if Defense Secretary Ash Carter agreed with Waldhauser’s assessment that there is no “overall grand strategy” in Libya, Cook also declined to answer, saying Libya remains “a very complicated situation.”

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Also see:

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SHOCKING: ISIS Fighters Are Disguising Themselves As Refugees [VIDEO]

Constitution, by Bethany Blankley, June 21, 2016:

CNN recently reported on a reality all to familiar with Libyan Immigration Police: ISIS fighters are disguising themselves as refugees to enter other countries to commit terrorist attacks.

Ismail al-Shukri, a police commander, told CNN, “ISIS can be among the illegal immigrants on the boats. They travel with their families, without weapons as normal illegal immigrants. They will wear American dress and have English language papers so they cause no suspicion.”

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, who accompanied police near Tripoli to a warehouse raid, reported:

“But there is a new threat here, smugglers and police telling us that ISIS have hidden fighters among other groups of migrants bound for Europe. This trade in human souls is awful enough until you think that perhaps ISIS are using this passage of human life into Europe to try and infiltrate the continent with sleeper cells. Police tell us off-camera they’ve caught different, other migrants with ISIS links and a top Libyan intelligence officials warns us, the threat is real.”

Walsh spoke to a smuggler who explained that he and other smugglers frequently ferry ISIS members from Libya to European ports.

“Do you and other smugglers feel comfortable moving people who may be ISIS towards Europe?” Walsh asked him. He replied, “Smugglers are only interested in smuggling. Only money matters.”

MEMO RECEIVED BY CLINTON: Obama Admin Aided Group That Became ISIS to Control Area Where ISIS Formed Caliphate

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Breitbart, by Patick Howley, June 15, 2016:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration supported the terrorist group that became ISIS as the group struggled to gain control of the Syria-Iraq border where ISIS now claims its caliphate, according to an intelligence report sent to Hillary Clinton.

Breitbart News reported Tuesday on a “Secret” classified intelligence report sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top U.S. officials and agencies in August 2012. The report confirmed that Western and Gulf states were joining with Turkey to “support” the Syrian opposition to dictator Bashar al Assad. The report confirmed that the Syrian opposition was being led by three groups, including Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which later became ISIS. The report confirmed that AQI was communicating through spokesman Muhammad al Adnani, who is now the chief spokesman for ISIS.

Western and Gulf states and Turkey helped these Syrian opposition groups to control the Syria-Iraq border, according to the report. ISIS later violently formed its caliphate in the areas around that border. The report noted the potential for “safe havens under international sheltering” in this region similar to the situation in Libya, where the temporary government that formed after the U.S.-aided overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi established a “command center” at Benghazi.

The intelligence report goes into detail about how the West was actively helping opposition groups including AQI to control the eastern border of Syria near the Iraqi province of Anbar and the city of Mosul, both of which eventually fell in part to al Adnani’s group the Islamic State (ISIS), which continues to fight to hold control of the territory.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE CURRENT EVENTS INTO PROXY WAR: WITH SUPPORT FROM RUSSIA, CHINA, AND IRAN, THE REGIME IS CONTROLLING THE AREAS OF INFLUENCE ALONG COASTAL TERRITORIES (TARTUS AND LATAKIA) AND IS FIERCELY DEFENDING HOMS, WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE PRIMARY TRANSPORTATION ROUTE IN SYRIA.

ON THE OTHER HAND, OPPOSITION FORCES ARE TRYING TO CONTROL THE EASTERN AREAS (HASAKA AND DER ZOR) ADJACENT TO THE WESTERN IRAQI PROVINCES (MOSUL AND ANBAR), IN ADDITION TO NEIGHBORING TURKISH BORDERS. WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES, AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS. THIS HYPOTHESIS IS MOST LIKELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DATA FROM RECENT EVENTS, WHICH WILL HELP PREPARE SAFE HAVENS UNDER INTERNATIONAL SHELTERING, SIMILAR TO WHAT TRANSPIRED IN LIBYA WHEN BENGHAZI WAS CHOSEN AS THE COMMAND CENTER OF THE TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT.

All of the areas cited in the memo have become the sites of ongoing ISIS terror or occupation.

ISIS subsequently conquered vast stretches of the Anbar province in Iraq, with major ISIS gains coming in 2014. Tribal leaders remain reluctant to expel ISIS in totality from the province as fighting continues in the area. The Islamic State conquered Mosul in June 2014 but the current Iraqi government made some incomplete gains earlier this year in re-taking some portions of ISIS territory.

In Syria, ISIS remains committed to conquering Hasaka, where ISIS attacked Syrian outposts in September and took some neighboring areas. ISIS decimated the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Der Zor in September.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump highlighted on Wednesday the 2012 memo sent to Clinton, prompting wide mainstream media coverage of its revelations.

The mainstream media has long confirmed the Obama administration’s sending of weapons to some Syrian opposition groups fighting Assad. The Obama administration publicly rolled out its plan in 2013 following Assad’s use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburbs.

But President Obama’s secret authorization for U.S. support to Syrian rebels was first reported in 2012, including by Reuters in the same month that Clinton was sent the secret memo. CNN also reported on Obama’s secret authorization on August 1, 2012. Obama had made the order within the previous several months, according to U.S. officials who spoke to CNN.

Erik Prince, founder of the global security firm Blackwater, told Breitbart News that the Obama administration was using its Benghazi, Libya consulate in relation to its sending of weapons to Syrian opposition groups. That consulate was attacked in September 2012, the month after Clinton was sent the above intelligence report.

The State Department named al Adnani a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in 2014.

The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

isis suicide attacksLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY | June 8, 2016:

The Islamic State claims to have executed 489 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first five months of 2016. The figure comes from monthly data published by Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the so-called caliphate that releases infographics summarizing the group’s suicide attacks.

Amaq’s most recent infographic (seen on the right) indicates that the jihadists executed 119 “martyrdom operations” in the month of May alone. If Amaq’s figures are accurate, then the Islamic State is launching suicide attacks at a historically high rate.

Earlier this month, for example, the State Department reported that there were 726 “suicide attacks” executed by all perpetrators around the globe in 2015. Therefore, all terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, carried out an average of 61 suicide bombings per month in 2015. The Islamic State nearly doubled that rate in May and has exceeded it by more than 20 attacks each month this year, according to Amaq’s infographics.

The data referenced by Foggy Bottom is compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which maintains an “unclassified event database compiled from information in open-source reports of terrorist attacks.”

According to START’s data, 2015 witnessed a record number of suicide bombings. But 2016 is currently on pace to eclipse that high-water mark.

While Amaq’s claims are difficult to independently verify, the statistics are reasonable given the scale of the Islamic State’s fighting. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men routinely claim credit for simultaneous suicide bombings. The organization is taking on multiple adversaries in every country where it operates, making the use of suicide bombings (one of the jihadists’ most effective tactics) an especially important tool. For instance, the State Department noted that “[o]n average, suicide attacks in 2015 were 4.6 times as lethal as non-suicide attacks.”

A recent video from Al Hayat, another one of the Islamic State’s mouthpieces, trumpeted this “caliphate vs. the world” mentality. In “The Religion of Kufr Is One,” Al Hayat made it clear that Baghdadi’s enterprise is at war with virtually everyone else. The subtitle of the video, “The Islamic State and its methodology dealing with all apostate parties and nations of disbelief,” underscored the degree to which this is the group’s deliberate strategy.

The Islamic State’s prolific use of “martyrs” probably highlights both its strength and weakness. On the one hand, there are likely more people, predominately young men, willing to die for the jihadists’ cause today than ever. (It should also be noted that adolescents and even children have been used in suicide attacks.) On the other hand, most of the organization’s suicide attackers are being dispatched in areas where the “caliphate” is being challenged, including locations that were once under its control.

The Long War Journal assesses that Islamic State is being forced to deploy many of its “martyrs” because its territorial claims are being rolled back in Iraq, Syria and even Libya.

The Long War Journal has tallied the figures provided on Amaq’s infographics from January through May of 2016. The English-language versions of these infographics can be seen below.

The following observations have been culled from Amaq’s statistics.

Most of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” 303 of the 489 claimed (62 percent), have been carried out inside Iraq. Approximately half of these (152 of 303) have been launched in Anbar province, where the jihadists are engaged in fierce battles with Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias for months. Salahuddin (52 suicide attacks), Nineveh (40), Baghdad (32), and Kirkuk (17) are the next most frequently targeted areas.

The Islamic State launched 175 suicide attacks in Syria (36 percent of the total) during the first five months of the year. Aleppo province (59) was hit most frequently, followed by Hasakah (33), Deir Ezzor (25), Homs (20) and Raqqa (14) provinces. Raqqa is, of course, the de facto capital of the Islamic State. Amaq’s data indicate that 12 of the 14 suicide attacks there this year were carried out in February.

The remaining 11 “martyrdom operations” took place in Libya. Interestingly, Amaq claimed only one suicide attack in Libya from January through April. But the infographic for May shows 10 such bombings. Nine of the 10 have been executed in and around Sirte, the group’s central base of operations in Libya. The Islamic State’s presence in Sirte has been under assault from multiple directions for weeks, with the jihadists losing their grip on some of the neighboring towns and key facilities. Thus, the group is likely attempting to stymie its rivals’ advances with the deployment of its suicide bombers.

Iraqi forces are the most frequent target of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” as they were hit 279 times from January through May. Bashar al Assad’s regime is the second most frequent target, with the Islamic State’s suicide bombers striking the Syrian government’s forces on 89 occasions. The remaining bombings struck “Kurdish units” (54), the “Syrian opposition” (31 times), the Peshmerga (25), Fajr Libya (10) and General Khalifa Haftar’s fighters in Libya (1).

Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) are used more often than individual bombers strapped with explosives, according to Amaq. The infographics count 301 VBIEDs used in suicide attacks (62 percent of the total) as compared to 184 bombings using explosive belts, jackets and vests. The remaining four are listed as “dual operations.”

Assuming Amaq’s data are accurate, then the Islamic State’s “martyrdom” machine is setting a record pace for suicide operations.

See more

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Also see:

The Benghazi Cover Up

How Obama, Hillary and their media allies won an election by lying to the American people

Front Page Magazine, June 3, 2016:

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Editor’s note: The following video was produced by journalist Lee Stranahan and exposes the coordinated campaign between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the media to conceal the truth about the Benghazi terrorist attack until after the 2012 presidential election. The video sequence is featured in Stranahan’s film “The Caliphate.” 

April 27, 1805 US Marines Squash Islamic Terrorists in Tripoli

Constitution, by Pamela Adams, April 27, 2016:

In February, 2015, 20 Coptic Christians (People of the Cross) were beheaded on a beach near Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. The Egyptian government responded with at least eight airstrikes in Derna.

The video of their murder went viral. Obama went golfing. Nearly every non-Muslim was clueless about the significance of where they were beheaded: Tripoli.

But U.S. Marines weren’t. Their nickname, “leathernecks,” came from the very reality that they first wore leather strips around their necks to protect themselves from being beheaded by Islamists when America was a fledgling nation. 

Although Bush and Obama have said America is not at war with “radical Islam” after September 11, 2001, America’s war with Islam began well before 2001. It didn’t start during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. America’s self defense from Islam began in 1801, with its first major victory on April 27, 1805.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, four Islamic countries, known as the Barbary Powers, attacked countries throughout the entire Mediterranean region, along trade routes, and against any nation it deemed “Christian.”

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Once America won its independence, American merchant ships became immediate targets and were completely defenseless. The Continental Congress disbanded the military after the war, but in 1784, without a central government, Congress gave John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin negotiating power to ensure safe American passage.

Jefferson and Adams questioned the Ambassador of Tripoli over the motivations behind the unprovoked attacks, which Jefferson expressed in a 1786 letter to John Jay:

“The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Peace negotiations continued after George Washington became president. The signed treaties included the U.S. government paying yearly “tributes” of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Barbary Powers.

By the end of Washington’s tenure, 16 percent of the federal budget was earmarked for this Muslim extortion.

As a result, America went into debt, had to obtain a loan from Holland just to pay Islamic terrorists, not unlike Obama’s Iran “deal.”  Washington was so dismayed by these payments, he lamented,

“Would to heaven we had a Navy able to reform those enemies of mankind (Muslims), or crush them into non-existence.”

Even after the years of “tributes,” Islamic terrorists captured several American sailors, and tortured and enslaved them in Tripoli.

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Immediately upon taking office, President Jefferson stopped paying the Barbary bribes. His presidency was only 2 months old when “Algerian Dey Muhammad declared war on the United States, creating a catalyst for two separate wars America fought against Tripoli (1801-1805) and Algiers (1815-1816).”

Jefferson had opposed expansive military funding. After just taking the oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” he had no choice but to fund the Navy and Marines, which Congress first commissioned on October 13, 1775 (Navy) and November 10, 1775 (Marines). Jefferson sent every available Navy ship to defend Americans from the Barbary Pirates.

It became evident Navy firepower needed land support. William Eaton, a U.S. Navy Agent, devised a plan to attack Tripoli’s radical leader Yususf Karamanli who had dethroned and exiled his brother, Hamet Karamanli, to Egypt. Eaton solicited the help of Hamet, an American ally, for a land expedition.

A similar coup occurred in Libya, in August, 2011, when Muammar Gaddafi was ousted from power. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood quickly seized power. The difference is this political switch was supported and orchestrated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, and funded by Congress. A dictator cooperative with America, thanks to Ronald Reagan, was removed, in support of a movement focused implementing Shari’a Law and exterminating infidels everywhere.

When Gaddafi bombed a nightclub frequented by American military in West Berlin on April 5, 1986, Reagan did not make excuses for this terrorist act. He sent American airmen to bomb Libya and severely damage its terrorism infrastructure. While Gaddafi escaped death, and still supported terrorism, he quickly learned to tread lightly with Reagan. 

Starting with eight Marines and two Navy midshipmen under the command of First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, Eaton built a force of 400 men consisting of Greek and Arab mercenaries, Turks, Arab cavalry, and Hamet’s own troops.

Leaving Egypt on March 8, 1805, they began a 500-mile journey– on foot and by camel– through the desert– towards the port city of Derne, the capital of Tripoli, in modern-day Libya. After 50 days in the desert, Eaton immediately sent word to the governor requesting his surrender.

The governor simply responded, “My head or yours.” The fight was on.

Eaton gathered the Americans, Greeks, and Turks to attack the harbor munitions. Karamanli led the Arab mercenaries to the western side, to deflect reinforcements and attack the city.

While American ships bombed the shore, the Marines and midshipman spearheaded the attack on the fortress. Eaton was wounded but after an hour of fighting O’Bannon led his Marines over the city wall, causing the Barbary gunners to flee from their loaded cannons.

After O’Bannon raised the American flag for the first time over a foreign battlefield, they turned the abandoned cannons on the city. As the Tripolitans tried to escape, they ran straight into Karamanli’s men. There was no option but to surrender.

Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon at Derna.

Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon at Derna.

Following two hours of intense fighting, only two Marines were killed, and three were wounded. The Tripolitans suffered an estimated 800 casualties with roughly 1,200 wounded.

This is how ISIS should be handled, not hand-tying the military with “political correctness.”

Yusuf quickly began negotiations for a peace treaty, ending the war in June, 1805. Known as the First Barbary War, this conflict was over, but the battle still continues today.

The Marines’ overwhelming success and flag raising inspired the lyrics, “…to the shores of Tripoli…” in the Marine Corps Hymn. Hamet was so impressed with ’s heroic actions that he presented O’Bannon with an elaborate Mamaluke sword after the war. It served as the template for the Marine officer’s sword worn with his dress uniform.

The attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, should have been Obama’s “Jefferson moment.” Instead, he and Clinton sided with the Barbary Pirates, insisting an American video was responsible.

Jefferson stepped up to the president’s oath. Obama rolled over and neglect it. After playing golf.

Many try to portray Jefferson as a Muslim sympathizer because he owned a Qur’an. He was anything but. He wanted every American to read it to understand America’s enemy. Obama, on the other hand, quotes it as an example of a beautiful religion while condemning the Bible.

History is repeating itself. It was no coincidence the Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the shores near Tripoli at Derma.

Obama is still paying “tributes” to Islamists as Washington did, without a military. As we have learned from history, you don’t win, without a show of military force. You win with U.S. Marines who cross a desert on foot covering 500 miles in 50 days and still destroy the enemy. Hoorah!

But that’s just my 2 cents.

Pamela J. Adams maintains TheFactsPaper.com which includes her blog Liberty Letters. She is a stay-at-home mom who began researching history, science, religion, and current events to prepare for home schooling. She started Liberty Letters as short lessons for her daughter and publishes them for everyone’s benefit. Pamela has a Degree in Mathematics and was in the workforce for 20 years as a teacher, Marketing Director, Manager and Administrative Assistant. You can contact her through her website or follow her Liberty Letters accounts at Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

CPAC 2016—Countering the Global Jihad Panel Exposes Islamist Influence Operations

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AIM, by James Simpson  —   March 18, 2016
On assignment to CPAC 2016 for Capital Research Center
This report is exclusive to Accuracy in Media

After a number of years of noted absence, the Center for Security Policy returned to CPAC this year. On Thursday, March 3, the Center presented a “Countering Global Jihad” panel. The panel was moderated by CSP President, Frank Gaffney, and included CSP Vice President Jim Hanson; Danish historian, journalist and author, Lars Hedegaard; British activist and politician, Paul Weston; four-star Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr. (Ret.); and Middle East expert and former CIA case officer, Clare Lopez.

Jim Hanson

CSP VP Jim Hanson outlined a new CSP initiative, the Counterjihad Campaign (www.counterjihad.com). Its purpose is to provide Americans with the facts and the wherewithal to push back in the face of the Red-Green Axis: the leftist/Islamist effort to smear and intimidate Americans who dare to stand up to them.

Hanson related his experience as a second generation immigrant whose family believes in the American values of hard work and patriotism. His family immigrated legally, and enthusiastically assimilated to pursue the American dream. Hanson says that today, “The problem is that we are dealing with a large cohort [of Muslims] who do not, and will not [assimilate]… They’re proudly saying ‘not only will we not assimilate, but we are going to, in some ways, take over your culture.’”

Hanson took a special shot at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC put CSP on its “Hate Watch” list, calling CSP leaders the standard “Islamophobe” for their excellent work cataloging the subversive activities of Islamist individuals and groups. I have written extensively about the SPLC, its communist heritage and calculated “hate” accusations—as advocated by Lenin, Herbert Marcuse and Saul Alinsky—designed to intimidate and silence people. This is a malevolent organization created for the sole purpose of silencing anyone who does not buckle under to the left’s agenda—and makes big bucks while they’re at it. But Hanson put SPLC in its place:

“The bottom line is, it’s not true…When I was in Army Special Forces, one of the main missions was humanitarian assistance. I have built schools, dug wells, immunized hundreds of Muslim kids. And yet I’m anti-Muslim? No…”

It’s not ‘hate’ to love freedom. It’s not ‘hate” to believe that women should not be subjugated… It’s not hate to think that homosexuals shouldn’t be thrown off roofs. It’s love of freedom… That’s something we should be able to stand up proudly and say. That’s American. The people trying to stop that are the political Left—the politically correct police—and the Islamist groups…who are actually pushing an agenda that is not religion. They are doing it under the guise of religious freedom. They believe their totalitarian ideology [Sharia] is mandatory. You can either submit or be conquered. The Counterjihad is for you…to tell you what’s happening and empower you to act.”

Lars Hedegaard

Danish historian, journalist and author, Lars Hedegaard, talked about the ongoing mass migrant invasion into Europe. His was a gripping and engaging testimony:

The vast majority have nothing to do with being refugees, they are simply migrants who want to come to our countries and take advantage of our welfare states…in Denmark, where I come from, people don’t have to work. They can come into our country and claim any benefit that a Dane can claim—meaning free housing, free health service, free education, money if you don’t have any…They can also claim the protection of our laws and any of the benefits that accrue to us. And we have to pay for it…Every dime we can save goes to these foreigners, who come uninvited, and claim all the benefits from day one. And this is just one example. The same thing goes for Britain, Sweden, Germany and other countries.

Hedegaard identifies the Schengen Agreement as a main cause of the problem. This agreement, signed in 1995, allows for free, unchecked travel among most European Union countries. Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are excepted. Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are candidate countries (although they’d be wise to reconsider the wisdom of joining now). The European Union was supposed to ensure that the EU’s outer borders would seal off EU countries from the outside. But, Hedegaard says, “The European Union, which is a master con artist, did not keep its part of the promise. The outer borders do not exist. Currently anyone can get into Europe…”

Paul Weston

Paul Weston is a former UK Independent Party member and leads Liberty Great Britain, a political party he co-founded in 2013. Weston also spoke about the migrant crisis in Europe. He says Britain is not yet lost, but will be gone in 20 years or so. Sweden is “literally a lost country,” with perhaps five or ten years left. He says:

Malmo, Sweden is now the rape capital of the European continent. Aside from South Africa, I think it’s the rape capital of the world. It is that bad. So we look to Sweden in the way that you need to look to us. And we had, over the last 12 months, 12 mass transit bombings planned for England that our intelligence services, MI5, MI6, managed to stop…and despite this, we keep on saying, ‘you can come into our country…and we have no idea who these people are…

Weston noted how British political leaders refused to acknowledge the terrorist attacks in Britain as motivated by Islam. He said, “This denial of what Islam is, is going to be the downfall of Europe.” He finished dramatically, by saying that we Americans desperately need to retain our First Amendment rights, despite Obama’s efforts to clamp down. “Because unless we can talk about this, unless we can bring it out into the open, you in America will go the same way. You need to stand up and look at what we’re doing and say ‘this is never going to happen here.’”

Admiral James “Ace” Lyons

“Ace” Lyons is President and CEO of LION Associates LLC, a global security, trade, defense and procurement consultancy. A career naval officer, Lyons was, among other titles, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the largest military command in the world. He also served as Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations. As the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) from 1983 to 1985, he advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff and created the U.S. Navy SEAL Red Cell anti-terrorism unit, established in response to the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. Lyons’ irascible nature, irreverent sense of humor, and forthright, politically incorrect manner endear him to audiences wherever he speaks. This day was no exception.

Marine Barracks Bombing Betrayal

Lyons reveals military history with the unique perspective of being part of that history. For example, he was Deputy CNO when the Beirut, Lebanon Marine barracks was bombed on October 23, 1983. 220 U.S. Marines were killed—the largest one-day Marine loss since Iwo Jima. Twenty-one other servicemen were killed and 60 Americans wounded. The pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) bomb caused a blast equivalent to 21,000 lbs of TNT, and was considered to be the largest non-nuclear explosion ever detonated. Seconds after the Marine barracks attack, another facility housing French paratroopers was also bombed, killing 58 paratroopers and four Lebanese civilians.

As Ace explained, the bombings were carried out by Islamic Amal, a Hezbollah-allied splinter group of the Amal militia headed by Nabih Berri. They were headquartered in a Lebanese army barracks captured in mid-September with the help of Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces. Lyons says the U.S. government knew all this, and had inside sources providing accurate intelligence. Admiral Lyons was tasked with developing a devastating response. “We had the photographs.  We had it nailed down. We had the planes loaded…” he said.

He fingers then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for stopping the raid. According to Lyons, Weinberger told Reagan there was a risk of hitting Lebanese forces. “In other words,” Lyons says, “he sabotaged the strike.” Weinberger also prevented the U.S. military from participating with the French in their planned retaliatory attack in November. As Lyons recalls, “The secretary of defense would not issue the execute order! Unheard of!” He said that George Shultz and National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane “pleaded with Weinberger to release the execute message, and he refused to do it.”

Middle East expert Ken Timmerman, who was reached for comment on this article, recalled the French raid. “I was having a late lunch in the mountains, on my way back to Beirut after another day of covering the siege of Tripoli (Lebanon) in November, 1983, when the French Super Étendards flew overhead for Baalbek on the botched retaliation strike. I recognized the planes, and remember thinking at the time, wonder what they are up to…”

Lyons says to an echo of laughs, “the French dropped two 500 lb bombs and killed a goat.” One assumes he is joking to make a point, but in fact not. According to Timmerman, someone in the French government leaked the attack plan to the Iranians. The planes arrived at Baalbek, dropped their bombs and managed to kill a shepherd and his flock of goats. The targets were long gone.

Apparently the government also had warnings a month earlier that a major attack was in the works, and the military could have been prepared. Lyons relates that NSA had intercepted a message from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador in Damascus, Syria, on September 24, 1983, saying “take a spectacular action against the U.S. Marines.” However, Lyons did not see message until two days after the bombing.

Timmerman says the note was held up by none other than Colin Powell, at the time Weinberger’s military aide. Powell most likely kept it from the DoD chief, Timmerman says, because he believed a strike on Baalbek risked getting the U.S. sucked deeper into Lebanon, at a time Weinberger was lobbying hard to get the U.S. to withdraw from Lebanon. For his part, Weinberger claimed as late as 2001 that “[W]e still do not have the actual knowledge of who did the bombing…” In 2003, the DC Circuit Court sided with plaintiffs in a lawsuit holding Iran responsible for the attack. But in case you had any lingering doubts about Obama’s loyalties, in 2012 he blocked legislation that would have held Iran accountable for the attack.

Lyons hypothesized that the Iranians may have influenced Weinberger’s decision through behind-the-scenes lobbying. While that must remain conjecture, the Iran lobby is forthright these days. In fact, the Obama administration could almost be called a subsidiary of the Iranian government. Recall that prior to the 2008 election Obama had established a secret back-channel communication with Iran through former ambassador William G. Miller. His message was clear: “hold out against the Bush administration on nuclear talks because you will get a much better deal with me.”

Both Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden appear to have been heavily influenced by the Iranian lobby, as have Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Al Franken (D-MN) through the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC). Biden and Kerry have also been befriended by the American Iranian Council (AIC) and theIranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN). AIC founder, Housang Amirahmadi, once said he intended to “conquer Obama’s mind.” Biden even suggested sending $200 million to Iran, just for yucks. The nuclear deal includes unfreezing Iranian assets valued between $100 and $150 billion, and the Obama administration will pay $1.7 billion to settle a suit over undelivered military equipment ordered by the Shah prior to the Mullahs’ takeover. Some of these funds will likely be used for terrorist activities, Kerry has admitted.

The bombing remains an open sore for the U.S. Marine Corps, as it should for all Americans. As Timmerman said, “This was a lost opportunity. At the time, a powerful strike on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops in Lebanon would have taught Iran not to mess with the United States. Had we struck then, when Iran was severely weakened by its war with Iraq, we might have prevented 30 more years of Iranian state terrorism. As it was, they learned we were weak, and that they could attack us with impunity.”

Ken Timmerman is a rare example of true journalism. He has risked life and limb researching his stories in the Middle East and has developed a network of sources that cannot be made sitting behind a desk in Washington, D.C. Timmerman’s books read like thrillers. His most recent, Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi, brings his deep Middle East expertise into play and is one of the most authoritative books, if not the most authoritative, on the subject.

In his concluding remarks, Lyons offered some pithy reflections on our current state of affairs:

  •  “Their [The Muslim Brotherhood’s] penetration into our systems is as deep, or deeper, than the Communists of the 30s, 40s and 50s.”
  • “The Communists had Harry Hopkins as their man in the White House… The Islamists have President Obama.”
  • “On Libya, we changed sides… we provided the armament for the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias.”
  •  “Qaddafi was our guy in Libya. He was beating down the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias.”
  • “There was no humanitarian crisis in Benghazi. (The pretext for our involvement in Libya’s civil war was the Responsibility to Protect doctrine—a new idea promoted by George Soros and other radicals that justifies military intervention in any conflict where civilian lives are threatened, i.e. practically anywhere.)
  • “Qaddafi was ready to abdicate. He entered into negotiations with Carter Ham the AFRICOM commander… for two days. He was ready to go… Ham was directed to cut off negotiations.”
  • “Here’s the President who received the Nobel Peace Prize for giving a speech. But he couldn’t give three days to work out a truce and save the lives of tens of thousands of people.”
  • “We had forces that were ready to respond [in Benghazi]… They were enroute…”

Clare Lopez

Clare Lopez is a preeminent Middle East expert. A former CIA case officer for 20 years, she speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi. She has extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counter-proliferation issues. Clare used this forum to call for a change in policy that would explicitly identify Sharia as an “enemy threat doctrine, with the priority objective to counter it and defeat the forces of Islamic jihad globally.”

Clare backed up Lyons’ testimony regarding Iranian lobbying efforts, saying:

“Within the global jihad movement threats are myriad, including the deep, systemic, institutionalized penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood…of our national security leadership and apparatus. But Iran is far and away the most critical, dangerous and immediate U.S. adversary in this entire region. The Tehran leadership succeeded in blinding our U.S. leadership to its threat, by an equally deep…penetration of the intelligence community, the White House, the Department of State, and that is by the Iran lobby.”

Clare covered a lot of ground in her remarks. Here are some of the points she made:

  • Iran’s WMD program, especially its nuclear and Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) programs pose an immediate threat to the U.S. mainland, “right now, today.”
  • Iran’s behavior has gotten worse since the nuclear dear was concluded—a deal which was never signed.
  • Iran relies on proxy forces for its expansion of power and terrorism, including: Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, the Islamic State and the Taliban.
  • Many of these proxies will be receiving “massive” infusions of the money released by Obama following the nuclear deal.
  • Money is also being sent to both the Houthis in Yemen and the Assad regime in Syria.
  • A letter written by Osama bin Laden and seized during the raid on his Pakistani compound, was released recently. It says, “Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel and communication.”
  • Hamas is working very closely with the Islamic State in the Sinai.

Clare concluded with a call for regime change in Iran and a sea change in U.S. policy. Good ideas that should be considered once President Obama leaves office. There is much more in her presentation.

Conclusion

It was good to see CSP back at CPAC. CSP is one of the few DC organizations willing to confront head-on the difficult subject of Islamist infiltration in the U.S. The Muslim Brotherhood and its sister organizations have pretty well figured out the DC racket and their tentacles have become deeply entrenched in the Washington establishment of both parties. Thus, ironically, CSP is criticized by the establishment when it should be welcomed by them. This is a travesty, because the MB’s goal, aggressively pursued by front groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), is transforming our schools and our government, blinding us to the dangers of Islamic radicalism, creating fertile ground for terrorist attacks in the U.S. and threatening our cherished rights—most immediately the First Amendment.

James Simpson is an economist, businessman and investigative journalist. His articles have been published at American Thinker, Accuracy in MediaBreitbart, PJ Media, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily and others. His regular column is DC Independent Examiner. Follow Jim on TwitterFacebook

Islamic State details operations against jihadist rivals in Derna, Libya

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, March 18, 2016:

The 21st issue of the Islamic State’s weekly Al Naba newsletter, which was released earlier this month, contains an infographic (seen below) that says much about the organization’s operations inside Libya. The image purportedly summarizes “the most important military operations” against the “apostate Awakenings and the Libyan Army” in the city of Derna during a three-month period that ended Feb. 29, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 2.19.33 PM

A map at the top of the infographic highlights four key cities along the Mediterranean coast. From west to east they are: Sirte, Benghazi, Derna and Tobruk. Sirte has fallen to the “caliphate’s” fighters, who also control the neighboring towns of Nawfaliyah and Bin Jawad. In Benghazi, the Islamic State’s arm most likely cooperates, tacitly or otherwise, with other jihadists against General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the Libyan National Army.

But the story in the eastern city of Derna has been different. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s followers have repeatedly fought their jihadist rivals in the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) and other aligned factions since last year. The MSC has received the backing of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and has noteworthy ties to al Qaeda’s international organization.

The Islamic State refers to the MSC and allied organizations as the “apostate Awakenings.” The term “Awakenings” was once reserved for the Islamic State’s tribal opponents in Iraq, but the “caliphate” has broadened the meaning of the term to include even those organizations affiliated with al Qaeda.

Al Naba notes that the entirety of Derna falls under the jurisdiction of the Wilayat Barqah (or its eastern Cyrenaica Province). But the Islamic State’s “soldiers” are based in Al Fatayih (an area in the eastern part of the city) and its surrounding areas, as opposed to the heart of Derna. This is due to the group’s battles with the MSC last year. The Islamic State’s men were forced to abandon their strongholds in Derna’s center for the outlying neighborhoods.

According to the statistics in Al Naba’s infographic, however, the Islamic State continues to battle its jihadist foes. Its snipers targeted the “apostate Awakenings” 15 times and the group also detonated 32 improvised explosive devices against them as well. The “caliphate’s” soldiers launched 7 commando operations.

In sum, Al Naba’s editors claim that 250 members of the “Awakenings” and the Libyan Army were killed or wounded, four tanks and 18 other military vehicles were destroyed, and five military outposts were overrun. In addition, several vehicles were captured, along with a variety of other weapons and ammunition. The Islamic State does not break these figures down further, so there is no way to tell how the alleged casualties were distributed between the “Awakenings” and Haftar’s forces.

These statistics cannot be independently verified, but Al Naba’s infographic highlights the ongoing fighting between the Islamic State’s Libyan arm and its jihadist foes.

***

Must see – Libya : interactive map of major actions linked with ISIS or presumably ISIS in Libya since January 2016 (libertedecrire.wordpress.com) h/t Sebastian Gorka

capture-d_c3a9cran-2016-03-16-c3a0-21-41-43

Also see:

ISIS Now Possesses Anti-Aircraft Missiles; Can Reach Europe

An Islamic-State fighter with a shoulder-held missile. (Photo: Islamic-State video screenshot)

An Islamic-State fighter with a shoulder-held missile. (Photo: Islamic-State video screenshot)

Clarion Project, March 13, 2016:

The U.S. and U.N. have confirmed the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Libya now possesses shoulder-held missiles capable of downing civilian or military aircraft.

The admission puts planes in North and West Africa as well as all of Europe in danger.

The Islamic State’s stock of MANPADs (man portable air defense systems) originated from the stockpiles of weapons looted after Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels in 2011.

Gaddafi was believed to have possessed 20,000 MANPADs (Russian-made SA-7 and SA-16 models) by the time of his demise. An American team, acting in Libya after the coup, managed to locate and destroy 5,000 of the missiles.

The team leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Independent, “There’s a large number still there in Libya, where some of the larger militia groups still maintain the stocks that they originally took control of back in 2011.” He acknowledged that others have been smuggled to extremist groups fighting in the Sinai, Syria, Nigeria and Mali.

“We might never know where they went,” he added.

After the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, which also housed a secret CIA post, intelligence sources — crucial to tracking these weapons – were lost. Two years later, the team pulled out of Libya entirely, as the deteriorating security situation turned into a full-fledged civil war and made operating there too dangerous.

Analysts question why the weapons, which are clearly in the hands of terrorists have not been used to date, save for one confirmed instance in January 2014, when (according to Egyptian and Israeli officials) Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis used the weapon to shoot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai, killing five soldiers.

However, in February, the Islamic State in Libya claimed to have shot down a Libyan government MiG-23 fighter jet west of Benghazi while it was bombing an Islamist militia. While the Libyan government claims the plane went down due to “technical problems,” an analysis of a subsequent ISIS video of the incident by U.S. intelligence officials proved the Islamic State’s claim was most likely correct. The Islamic State also claims to have downed two other planes that the Libyan government said crashed since January because of technical problems.

In Libya, other warring factions each have good reason not to use the weapon, which would certainly stop flights in and out of the country and mean lack of supplies for each side. Arms smugglers also have reason to want the airports left open, with each missile selling for $12,000 on the black market.

But the real wildcat in this conflict is the Islamic State, which now controls a 150-mile swath of territory on Libya’s Mediterranean  coast, including the city of Sirte, a perfect place for the terror organization to regroup if defeated in Syria and Iraq and a base from which to expand into Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

CENTCOM: ISIS Being Dismantled in Syria But Spreading Regionally

CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin / AP

CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, March 9, 2016:

Thousands of Islamic State fighters and 160 of its leaders were killed in U.S. and allied military operations in Syria and Iraq over the past 18 months, the commander of the U.S. Central Command told Congress on Tuesday.

But the Islamist terror group has expanded to several regional states as U.S. forces enter a new phase of dismantling ISIS, also known as ISIL or Daesh, according to Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of 84,000 U.S. service members currently deployed in a zone stretching from North Africa to Southwest Asia.

“We are making progress militarily in our efforts to defeat ISIL, as demonstrated by the recent victories in Ramadi and Shaddadi,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee in prepared testimony. “However, military success will be lasting only if corresponding political progress is achieved in both Iraq and Syria.”

The commander also stated that winning the conflict against ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot that emerged in 2014 and has engaged in a campaign of barbaric mass murders and executions, will not be easy.

“ISIL will remain difficult to defeat as long as [Syrian leader Bashar al] Assad remains in power,” Austin said. “He needs to be replaced and a stable, responsive government must be established to prevent safe haven for [violent groups] like ISIL.”

Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) criticized the anti-ISIS war effort as insufficient. He noted that for 16 months none of the group’s fuel trucks were bombed, allowing the terrorists to generate millions of dollars in revenue. “This is what is so infuriating to so many of us,” McCain said.

On President Obama’s mishandling of the conflict, McCain said: “Once again American, credibility is disintegrating as the malign influence of Iran and Russia continues to grow. This administration’s great failure to date has not been that it makes mistakes. It is rather that it has failed or perhaps refused to learn from them. And unless we chart a new course, it may well be this administration’s lasting legacy.”

When asked by McCain if the security situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating, the four-star general responded: “In part, I agree. I think the Taliban have become more active.”

In addition to the threat from terrorists, Austin warned that Iran and its surrogates posed a growing threat to the region through Tehran’s use of paramilitary forces and surrogates like the terrorist group Hezbollah.

“I would say clearly the most dangerous near-term threat is ISIL or Daesh, and we will deal with that threat as a part of an international coalition,” Austin said. “I would say the greatest mid- to long-term threat to stability in the region is clearly Iran, and we will need to work with our partners in the region to really counter the malign activity that we’ve seen Iran conduct over time.”

U.S. military operations also have taken place in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is engaged in a stalemate against an Iran-backed Islamist insurgency, and in Libya, where ISIS is seizing territory, mostly in the coastal city of Sirte.

Austin said military operations against ISIS in Syria are limited to supporting local forces with airstrikes and training and arming ground forces. “We are achieving good effects against the enemy; we completed Phase I of the military campaign—degrade—and are well into Phase II—dismantle,” he said.

Territorial gains by ISIS have been halted and a coalition of ethnic Syrian Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Turkmen, and others are pushing toward the ISIS capital of Raqqa, Syria. They have retaken some 7,000 square miles of territory and cut ISIS’s resupply lines.

Some 40 percent of ISIS’s territory in Iraq has been retaken, and sales of oil by the group have been curbed.

Since August 2014, 10,700 airstrikes have been carried out against the group by 19 nations.

“Coalition airstrikes have removed several thousand enemy fighters from the battlefield, to include more than 160 of ISIL’s leaders,” Austin said.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that a senior ISIS leader, Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, a Chechen, was killed in an airstrike March 4 near Shaddadi, Syria.

“We have destroyed thousands of the enemy’s vehicles, tanks, and heavy weapon systems, along with training sites and storages facilities, command and control structures, and oil production facilities.”

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi remains at large, however, and Austin said the enemy hides among civilians, which has led the U.S.-led coalition to limit its attacks to precision strikes designed to prevent collateral damage.

As a result of operations against ISIS, the group has become less capable, more paranoid, and has suffered from morale problems and defections by its fighters, Austin said.

Battlefield gains by the coalition have forced ISIS to expand outside of Syria and Iraq to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well as parts of Asia, Austin said, noting that “expansion is a necessary element of ISIL’s declared end-state of a global caliphate.”

The expansion “also demonstrates that we are degrading the enemy’s capability in Iraq and Syria; as a result, ISIL is attempting to gain a foothold in alternate locations,” he said.

The spread of ISIS also has made it difficult to focus international attention on gains against the group in Syria and Iraq. Austin said the group “must achieve real or perceived military victories and it must expand” to maintain its legitimacy.

As a result, greater efforts are needed to counter the group outside its strongholds and stem the flow of foreign fighters into the organization.

Russia’s support for the Assad regime has prolonged the Syria conflict, which has claimed an estimated 250,000 lives, Austin said. A current ceasefire in Syria has allowed humanitarian aid to reach parts of the country.

“Assad would almost certainly not be in power today were it not for the robust support provided to the regime by Iran and Russia,” he said.

Austin said the Russian strategy in Syria of a quick military intervention is not working. The intervention “bolstered and empowered” the regime but the Russians are “finding out is that this could go on for some time,” he said.

What the four-star general termed the Iranian Threat Network is becoming more powerful and contributing to destabilization throughout the region. An additional concern is a major expansion of Russian-Iranian cooperation.

“Russia’s cooperation with Iran appears to be expanding beyond near-term coordination for operations in Syria and is moving towards an emerging strategic partnership,” Austin said in his prepared testimony.

“The potential for a more traditional security cooperation arrangement between Russia, a state actor and member of the U.N. Security Council, and Iran is cause for significant concern given Iran’s existing relationship with the Syrian regime and Lebanese Hezbollah,” he added. “We already see indications of high-end weapon sales and economic cooperation between the two countries.”

The weapons include advanced S-300 air defense systems and coastal anti-ship cruise missiles. Austin said he is concerned the Russian weapons will “eventually wind up in the hands of Lebanese Hezbollah.”

Iran’s paramilitary Qods Force is also operating in the region, and Tehran’s ballistic missiles and cyber warfare capabilities continue to pose a threat, he said.

Austin said he is hopeful implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran and the country’s recent elections will lead to more responsible behavior by the Iranians, but “we’ve not yet seen any indication that they intend to pursue a different path.”

“The fact remains that Iran today is a significant destabilizing force in the region,” he said.

On Libya, the commander of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. David Rodriguez, who testified with Austin, was asked if U.S. military intervention in Libya could defeat ISIS, which has some 5,000 fighters currently based there.

“I think the answer to that is yes,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a question of how much risk we, the nation has to take with the readiness of the forces, and how much you’re going to commit.”

***

JONATHAN SPYER: CBN Interview: ISIS Losing Ground: Why That May Not Be a Good Thing

Also see:

Bin Laden Willed His Fortune to Jihad, Worried His Wife’s Teeth Were Bugged

AP

AP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, March, 1, 2016:

Over a hundred documents seized in the 2011 special-forces raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan were released to the public on Tuesday, including a handwritten will. The al-Qaeda mastermind made some provisions for his family but wanted most of his $29 million fortune devoted to “jihad, for the sake of Allah.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail reports this document appears to have been composed in the late 1990s and covered money bin Laden had stashed in Sudan.

Two of bin Laden’s top al-Qaeda associates were to be rewarded with one percent of the $29 million apiece. He also “set down specific amounts in Saudi riyals and gold that should be apportioned between his mother, a son, a daughter, an uncle, and his uncle’s children and maternal aunts.”

He encouraged his family to spend his money on holy war.

“I hope for my brothers, sisters and maternal aunts to obey my will and to spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on jihad, for the sake of Allah,” bin Laden wrote.

The Globe and Mail notes another, much more recent, letter in which Osama bin Laden asked his “precious father” to care for his wife and children if he died.

“I entrust you well for my wife and children, and that you will always ask about them and follow up on their whereabouts and help them in their marriages and needs,” he wrote to his father in 2008, adding a plea for forgiveness “if I have done what you did not like.”

“If I am to be killed, pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home,” he wrote to his father in the same letter, according to the Associated Press.

The AP quotes another letter from bin Laden, addressed to “the Islamic community in general,” in which he praised jihad as a success following the 9/11 attack.

“Here we are in the tenth year of the war, and America and its allies are still chasing a mirage, lost at sea without a beach,” he wrote, evidently about a year before U.S. special forces raided his compound, shot him, and dumped his body at sea, far away from any beaches.

“They thought that the war would be easy and that they would accomplish their objectives in a few days or a few weeks, and they did not prepare for it financially, and there is no popular support that would enable it to carry on a war for a decade or more. The sons of Islam have opposed them and stood between them and their plans and objectives,” bin Laden continued.

In other letters, bin Laden said the U.S. was stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan, much like the Soviet Union before it, and viewed the overthrow of dictator Moammar Qaddafi as a great opportunity for jihad in Libya.

In fact, he credited al-Qaeda with defeating Qaddafi, who bin Laden described as a “truly vile hallucinating individual who troubles us in front of the world.” As it turned out, bin Laden was right about post-Qaddafi Libya presenting great opportunities for jihad, thanks to Obama foreign policy, but it would be ISIS that exploited those opportunities, not their progenitors in al-Qaeda.

Despite the sunny outlook for jihad offered by bin Laden in many of these letters, Reutersnotes that other correspondence painted al-Qaeda’s fugitive leader as paranoid and under intense pressure.

He warned his lieutenants to look for tracking devices in everything from ransom payments to his wife’s teeth. He advised al-Qaeda operatives to remain indoors “except on a cloudy, overcast day” to evade U.S. surveillance satellites.

He also exhorted his subordinates to carry out massive terror attacks on American soil to follow up on 9/11, ignoring their protests that al-Qaeda lacked the capability to execute such missions. As one U.S. official put it, bin Laden was “somewhat out of touch with the actual capabilities of his organization.”

Long War Journal has more:

The New York Times’ Cover-Up of Hillary’s Illegal Libyan War

hillary_clinton4Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Feb. 28, 2016:

More than any other paper, the New York Times has held Obama’s foreign policy line. It’s been the place where administration sources leaked stories and narratives. The New York Times ran David Kilpatrick’s desperate attempt to shore up the “YouTube Video Caused Benghazi” lie at a time when even most of the media was unwilling to keep repeating that bizarre claim any more.

So the New York Times is the natural outlet for yet another whitewash of the illegal Libyan War. This one is more about Democrats than Republicans. Jim Webb, and in his own clumsy way, Bernie Sanders have raised the Libya issue. Tulsi Gabbard quit the DNC and endorsed Bernie Sanders in part over Libya. The New York Times’ multipart Hillary Libya series is about making that war palatable to liberals.

Excuse #1 is that Hillary Clinton just has a bias for action.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, her director of policy planning at the State Department, notes that in conversation and in her memoir, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly speaks of wanting to be “caught trying.” In other words, she would rather be criticized for what she has done than for having done nothing at all.

“She’s very careful and reflective,” Ms. Slaughter said. “But when the choice is between action and inaction, and you’ve got risks in either direction, which you often do, she’d rather be caught trying.”

That’s probably the worst excuse imaginable. It’s also flagrantly dishonest. Hillary Clinton didn’t have a bias for action in Sudan. She had a bias for action when it came to overthrowing regimes on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Excuse #2 the Genocide Lie

The piece only indirectly addresses this. But it’s the reason Obama gave for intervention. He claimed that massacres were about to happen in Benghazi. He suggested that much of the city might be wiped out. None of this was real or true.

“Jake Sullivan, Mrs. Clinton’s top foreign-policy aide at State and now in her campaign, said her view was that “we have to live in a world of risks.” In assessing the situation in Libya, he said, “she didn’t know for certain at the time, nor did any of us, what would happen — only that it passed a risk threshold that demanded that we look very hard at the response.”

What was the basis for this risk threshold? Why did genocide in Africa fail to meet this imaginary threshold?

The left spent a decade howling about Iraq. It has still failed to address the simple fact that Obama lied about the basis for the war in Libya. And Hillary Clinton handfed him that lie.

Excuse #3 Regime Change, Not Protecting Civilians

The No Fly Zone was a hoax. No such zone was needed. Nor was it about protecting civilians, but aiding Muslim terrorists.

“We basically destroyed Qaddafi’s air defenses and stopped the advance of his forces within three days,” recalled Mr. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.

But the mission quickly evolved from protecting civilians in Benghazi to protecting civilians wherever they were. As the rebellion swelled and bystanders became combatants, the endgame became ever more murky. The United States and its allies were increasingly drawn to one side of the fighting, without extended debate over what that shift portended.

Not only is this a ridiculous lie, but it’s contradicted early on in the same article as it mentions a covert program of transferring weapons to the terrorists. This wasn’t even about protecting the terrorists, though it began that way, it was about destroying Gaddafi’s forces.

It’s 2016 and the media is still maintaining the same tired lie.

“I can’t recall any specific decision that said, ‘Well, let’s just take him out,’” Mr. Gates said. Publicly, he said, “the fiction was maintained” that the goal was limited to disabling Colonel Qaddafi’s command and control. In fact, the former defense secretary said, “I don’t think there was a day that passed that people didn’t hope he would be in one of those command and control centers.”

That’s regime change. It’s invasion and assassination. Gaddafi was a bad guy. He got what he deserved. But let’s stop playing this game in which there was never a war or an invasion. Or it was about protecting “civilians”.

By April, the president had authorized the use of drones, and, according to a senior rebel commander, C.I.A. operatives began visiting rebel camps and “providing us with intercepts of Qaddafi’s troop movements.”

To “protect civilians”.

“There was a moment, around about June or July,” recalled Mr. Shapiro, the State Department’s Libya policy adviser, “when the situation on the ground seemed to settle into a stalemate and we weren’t sure we were winning, or at least winning quickly enough.”

So we’ve gone from the ‘protecting civilians’ myth to straight up trying to win a war.

Obama ultimately took her side, according to the administration officials who described the debate. After he signed a secret document called a presidential finding, approving a covert operation, a list of approved weaponry was drawn up. The shipments arranged by the United States and other Western countries generally arrived through the port of Benghazi and airports in eastern Libya, a Libyan rebel commander said.

“Humvees, counterbattery radar, TOW missiles was the highest end we talked about,” one State Department official recalled. “We were definitely giving them lethal assistance. We’d crossed that line.”

How many of those weapons have been used against us since then?

Excuse #4: Hillary 2016

Mrs. Clinton’s old friend and political adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, who regularly emailed her political advice and vaguely sourced intelligence reports on Libya, urged her to capitalize on the dictator’s fall.

“Brava!” Mr. Blumenthal exclaimed. As always, he was thinking about Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions. “You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” She should be sure to use the phrase “successful strategy,” he wrote. “You are vindicated.”

This is the first mention of Blumenthal even though it’s clear from her emails that he was far more influential and had his own interests in Libya.

Two days before, Mrs. Clinton had taken a triumphal tour of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and for weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.” The memo’s language put her at the center of everything: “HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,” it read.

Hillary Clinton had wrecked Libya and was using it to run for office.

“The president was like, ‘We are not looking to do another Iraq,’” said Derek Chollet, then handling Libya for the National Security Council.

Too late.

Still, in her last months at the State Department, Mrs. Clinton rode a wave of popularity, bolstered by an Internet meme called “Texts From Hillary.” Its emblem was a photograph of the secretary of state gazing through dark glasses at her BlackBerry. Few knew that it had been taken aboard the military transport plane taking her to Libya in those heady days after the dictator’s fall.

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Confirmed: Obama Sent Weapons to Muslim Terrorists in Benghazi

One of the few interesting items in the New York Times’ whitewash of Hillary and Obama’s illegal Libyan war is the confirmation of weapons shipments.

Obama ultimately took her side, according to the administration officials who described the debate. After he signed a secret document called a presidential finding, approving a covert operation, a list of approved weaponry was drawn up. The shipments arranged by the United States and other Western countries generally arrived through the port of Benghazi and airports in eastern Libya, a Libyan rebel commander said.

“Humvees, counterbattery radar, TOW missiles was the highest end we talked about,” one State Department official recalled. “We were definitely giving them lethal assistance. We’d crossed that line.”

The story blames the problem on Qatar aiding Jihadists and Obama’s unwillingness to defy the terror oil state. But the claim that we had to arm terrorists to fight Qatar’s arming of terrorists doesn’t hold up too well. Furthermore we already know that US forces were told to turn a blind eye to Qatar’s weapons shipments. We could have blocked them instead.

The story mentions a competition between Qatar and the UAE over arming the locals, but fails to clarify that Qatar was arming straight Jihadists, while the UAE had taken an anti-Islamist line.

It also fails to clarify that Qatar was backing the Muslim Brotherhood. Just like Hillary and Obama.

Salvaging Mrs. Clinton’s Legacy in a Shattered Libya

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AIM, by Roger Arnoff, February 25, 2016:

The Washington Post seems unable to grasp the irony of its support for President Obama’s latest military intervention into Libya at the same time that it seeks to salvage Hillary Clinton’s reputation on this issue. Libya remains a failed state, and no amount of reporting can change the facts of this debacle.

“With respect to Libya, I have been clear from the outset that we will go after ISIS wherever it appears, the same way that we went after al Qaeda wherever they appeared,” President Obama told the press on February 16.  “And the testament to the fact that we are doing that already is that we took out…one of ISIS’s most prominent leaders in Libya.”

Obama’s words came out just days before the House Select Committee on Benghazi signaled that its report on the events in Benghazi, Libya will be issued “as soon as possible,” now that it has gained access to most of the necessary witnesses and documents.

According to The Military Times, “Many experts note that the current chaos in Libya stems from the power vacuum caused by the American-led air campaign to oust Gaddafi.” Yet reporters at the Post continue to dramatize the issue of Libya as if it were Mrs. Clinton, or President Obama, who faced the tough choices in 2011.

“The stakes Clinton faced were high,” reported Kevin Sullivan for the Post on February 3. “Introducing U.S. military force could have easily led to a much-longer-than-expected and bloodier operation, at a time when Americans were already weary of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“But failing to act could have led to a massacre that the world would have blamed on Washington,” adds Sullivan. “It also could have solidified Gaddafi’s grip on power as other dictators were falling across the region.”

These fairy tale justifications have been exposed again and again, yet the mainstream media continue to use them in defense of their favorite Democratic presidential candidate. Reporters such as Sullivan aren’t interested in reporting facts that could damage Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy reputation. And Libya is one of Mrs. Clinton’s weakest points, for which she takes full ownership. Her aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote in a 2011 internal email while she was Secretary of State that Mrs. Clinton has “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s [L]ibya policy from start to finish.”

Sullivan is now the top foreign policy adviser for Clinton’s campaign.

As we have reported, Qaddafi was actually an American ally in the war on terror before he was ousted. Our Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) interim report demonstrates how the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton, decided to back al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya instead of holding truce talks with Qaddafi, which could have ended with his abdication and a peaceful transition of power.

The Washington Times also reported that it was Mrs. Clinton who told a Pentagon general to stop communicating with Qaddafi’s son, Saif, and other Qaddafi loyalists seeking a truce after the UN resolution calling for military intervention in Libya was passed on March 17, 2011.

Now conflict-ridden Libya has devolved into an Islamic State stronghold with warring militias. And the Post is pushing President Obama to intercede. “Mr. Obama has tried waiting on the sidelines in Iraq and Syria,” argued the Post’s Editorial Board on February 17. “He should not make the same mistake in Libya.”

An American warplane killed 49 and wounded six at an ISIS training camp in Libya, reported CNN on February 20. In response, ISIS recently beheaded 12 menat the security headquarters in Sabratha, according to the Atlantic on February 24. “American intelligence officials estimate that the group’s [ISIS] ranks in Libya have grown to 6,500 fighters, more than doubling since the fall,” it reports. “The group is now thought to control 150 miles of Libyan coastline.”

The administration’s mistakes in Libya have already been made, and there have been many. The narrative that somehow the Obama administration’s multilateral intervention into Libya was necessary is false. There was no humanitarian crisis to resolve. “Despite what defenders of the mission claim, there was a better policy available—not intervening at all, because peaceful Libyan civilians were not actually being targeted,” wrote University of Texas at Austin professor Alan Kuperman for Foreign Affairs last year. “As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him,” he writes.

According to a column by Pete Hoekstra, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the CCB, “Libya devolved into a failed state when NATO assisted Qaddafi’s radical jihadist opponents in killing him and then promptly abandoned the country. Left in the wake were two rival governments competing for power, which created space for Islamists to turn Libya into a cesspool of extremism.” He added that “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to call the debacle American ‘smart power at its best.’”

“How will the West ever learn anything,” asks Hoekstra, “if it can’t identify its most obvious failures?”

Now it seems that the U.S. must again commit additional blood and sweat to fix the situation that Hillary Clinton and President Obama helped create in the first place.

It is no wonder that Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy reputation needs rehabilitation under such circumstances. The Post’s Sullivan admits that Hillary Clinton’s choice to back the Libyan intervention was the “most significant—and risky—[decision] of her career,” a choice which still haunts her record. However, he takes it upon himself to dispel any doubts about her potential.

“The [Post] story doesn’t come off as uniformly flattering,” writes Cato’s Christopher A. Preble for The National Interest. “The headline calls it ‘a tough call’ that supposedly ‘still haunts’ Clinton, and the subhead references Clinton’s ill-considered support for the war in Iraq in 2002.”

However, Preble writes, “all of the people quoted by name in the story are Clinton supporters or advocates for the operation that ousted Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi from power, and eventually resulted in his death.”

Sullivan’s article contains quotes from an anonymous former official involved in the Libyan negotiations effusively championing Clinton’s decision-making style and leadership. “She consults widely and intensively. She talks to more people, takes more phone calls, travels more miles,” says the supporter. “She’s more disciplined than her husband…Hillary Clinton came into the Situation Room for every meeting thoroughly prepared,” that supporter continues. “She’s a disciplined decision-maker.”

The Washington Post is clearly attempting to pave the way for Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy by casting the intervention into Libya as a necessary evil with an unfortunate ending, and by excusing Obama’s intervention in the same country twice. The truth is, however, that Mrs. Clinton and President Obama spearheaded a policy that ended in abject failure and continues to result in death and danger abroad. The fact that this policy, which the Post now seeks to sell to the public, resulted in the Benghazi scandal and the resulting death of four Americans—and many more Libyans—cannot be overlooked no matter how much Sullivan or other reporters try to spin Libya positively.

Also see:

Neither Remaining Nor Expanding: The Islamic State’s Global Expansion Struggles

isis_iraq_hp_FDD, by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
23rd February 2016 – War on the Rocks

Co-written with Nathaniel Barr

Judging from the Islamic State’s propaganda, it would appear the group is rapidly overtaking the Muslim world. The Islamic State has declared wilayats (provinces) in ten countries spanning from Nigeria to the Caucasus region. It has executed high-profile attacks in several otherwise stable countries, including Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, France, and the United States. The group has championed its victories and downplayed its defeats at every turn, portraying itself as a military behemoth destined to restore the caliphate to its former glory. In short, the Islamic State would like the world — and especially prospective recruits — to believe it is “remaining and expanding” (baqiya wa tatamaddad), a slogan that defines the group’s propaganda.

Yet in reality, between state security forces and rival jihadist groups, the Islamic State has encountered one serious obstacle after another as it has tried to expand its presence beyond Syria and Iraq. Several of its nascent affiliates met decisive defeat. In some places, the Islamic State has been its own worst enemy, as personality clashes and disagreements over strategy created deep cleavages.

Confronted by this array of external and internal challenges, the Islamic State’s track record of territorial expansion in its “near abroad” has been uneven, to put it mildly. One wilayat that the Islamic State declared now exists only on paper. Many upstart splinter groups that broke away from existing jihadist organizations to pledge allegiance to the caliphate have fared poorly or ceased to exist altogether.

The Islamic State’s expansion struggles stand in contrast to the group’s “winner’s messaging” and threaten the perception of momentum that it works hard to maintain. Yet these stumbles have gone largely unnoticed by the international media. The Islamic State has done a masterful job of concealing its weaknesses, and many of the group’s defeats have taken place in far-flung and dangerous areas where journalists rarely tread. As the Brookings Institution’s Shadi Hamid has noted, for the Islamic State, “objective reality doesn’t matter” because it is fighting “a propaganda war.” This article takes a step toward a more balanced view of the group’s expansion efforts by detailing several significant defeats in its near abroad.

Read more

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the chief executive officer of Valens Global, a consulting firm that focuses on the challenges posed by violent non-state actors. Nathaniel Barr is the research manager at Valens Global.

US airstrike targets Islamic State operative, training camp in Libya

The Sabratha municipal council released several photos, including this one, purportedly showing the aftermath of today’s airsrike. Source: Libya Al Hurra TV.

The Sabratha municipal council released several photos, including this one, purportedly showing the aftermath of today’s airsrike. Source: Libya Al Hurra TV.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb.19, 2016:

The US military launched an airstrike in Libya earlier today targeting an Islamic State “training camp near Sabratha” and a jihadist named Noureddine Chouchane, according to the Pentagon. Chouchane, a Tunisian who is also known as “Sabir,” is a “senior facilitator” for the Islamic State in Libya and “associated with the training camp.”

The Tunisian government has “named Chouchane as a suspect in the March 18, 2015, deadly attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis.” More than 20 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed in the assault on the Bardo Museum. There has been some confusion over who was responsible for the massacre. The Islamic State quickly claimed credit, but Tunisian authorities blamed members of the Uqba bin Nafi Battalion, which is part of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

If Chouchane was involved in the Bardo killings, then his role is further evidence of the Islamic State’s culpability. Chouchane may have also played a part in the July 2015 shooting spree at a beach in Sousse, Tunisia.

The Pentagon says Chouchane has “facilitated the movement of potential” Islamic State-affiliated “foreign fighters from Tunisia to Libya and onward to other countries.”

The Defense Department also suggests that Chouchane could “potentially” be involved in “planning external attacks on” American “interests in the region,” in addition to recruiting new members for Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s global operation and “establishing bases in Libya.”

According to officials contacted by The Long War Journal, the US government has become increasingly concerned about the Islamic State’s ability to plot attacks in the West and against American interests from its base of operations on the Mediterranean coast. It is possible that Chouchane was involved in such plotting, but that has not been confirmed.

Initial reports in the aftermath of the bombing say that dozens of people were killed. The identities of those killed have not yet been verified.

The US has targeted senior leaders of both the Islamic State and al Qaeda inside Libya on several occasions since the fall of Muammar al Qaddafi’s regime in 2011.

On Nov. 13, 2015, the US killed Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, also known as Abu Nabil al Anbari, in an airstrike. Zubaydi, an Iraqi national, “was a longtime al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL [Islamic State] leader in Libya,” according to a statement by the US military. He is thought to have served as the lead executioner in the February 2015 massacre of Coptic Christians on the Libyan coast, although there is some uncertainty concerning his putative role in the murders.

The Islamic State’s so-called Libyan “province” launched an offensive in early January named after “Sheikh Abdul Mugirah al Qahtani,” which is likely one of Zubaydi’s several aliases. The operations targeted oil facilities and towns in northern Libya. [See LWJ report, Islamic State’s Libyan ‘province’ launches new offensive.]

In mid-June 2015, the US bombed a location in Libya where Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran al Qaeda operative, was suspected of meeting with other jihadists. Months later, according to The Washington Post, US officials are still not certain of Belmokhtar’s fate.

Al Qaeda has, for the most part, acted as if Belmokhtar survived. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) issued a statement saying Belmokhtar is “alive and well.” Al Murabitoon, another al Qaeda group operating in North and West Africa at the time, also denied that he had perished and released a statement in August 2015 naming Belmokhtar as its overall emir, or leader. In December 2015, Ibrahim al Qosi, an ex-Guantanamo detainee who is now an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader,referred to Belmokhtar as if he is still alive and praised him for bringing Al Murabitoon and AQIM together in a merger.

These statements are not definitive, however, and the jihadists have not released a proof of life audio or video message from Belmokhtar himself.

American troops captured Abu Anas al Libi, who was wanted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and suspected of leading al Qaeda’s network in Libya, during a raid in October 2013. Al Libi subsequently died in US custody as he was awaiting trial.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

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