Left: U.S. Humvee captured by ISIS in Mosul, June 11, 2014.
According to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, the international coalition forces against ISIS succeeded in the past nine months, mainly through the United States air-campaign, to kill more than 10,000 ISIS fighters. This, according to Blinken, caused ISIS to lose control over 25 percent of the territory it had captured in Iraq. However, Blinken admits that ISIS appeal to foreign fighters has in fact increased: “They are on the march, they are succeeding, they’re moving forward, and we are not, and in fact it’s just the opposite,” he said. He attributed this to ISIS’s successful recruitment of “young…impressionable people around the world.”
Under growing criticism of handling the war against ISIS, the Obama administration decided to send more weapons to the Iraqi army and has already sent the first shipment of the 2,000 AT4 anti-tank missiles to be used against ISIS driven American tanks and armored vehicles that the withdrawing Iraqi army left behind. How long will it take before these missiles will join the more than an estimated $1 billion worth of mostly American made Iraqi weapons that have been already captured by ISIS? And how would anti-tank missiles stop ISIS’s most popular mass-attack weapon, the car-bomb? That, Blinken did not explain. Nor did he elaborate on what the U.S. and its allies are doing to counter ISIS’s most powerful weapon: radicalization and recruitment of foreign fighters from among Sunnis everywhere. While some new ISIS recruits need training, others who travel to fight in Iraq, Syria, and Libya (such as the Afghan Taliban and the Chechen jihadists) are battle-hardened and eager to die for the caliphate.
On June 3, in his testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michael B. Steinbach, said: “There is no set profile for the susceptible consumer of this [ISIS] propaganda. However, one trend continues to rise—the inspired youth. We’ve seen certain children and young adults drawing deeper into the ISIL narrative.”
What Steinbach neglected to say is that those youngsters are Muslims who have been fed radical Islamist propaganda in mosques, Islamic centers and schools—and often at their homes. Such a steady diet has laid the fertile ground that yields a growing number of recruits for ISIS’s anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-infidel jihad at home and abroad. Once a jihadi terrorist is caught in the U.S., the mosques that he/she frequented are quick to issue a condemnation. But neither the mosque, nor the Muslim community, should be able to distance themselves with a press release or an appearance on CNN. What is needed is ending the preaching of jihad.
That, however, requires pressure by the self-proclaimed moderate and liberal Muslims everywhere on the highest Sunni religious authorities in Cairo’s al-Azhar University to challenge and change the Islamic law shari’a) that views non-Muslim countries as Dar-al Harb (House of War), where jihad (Holy war) is necessary to turn them into Dar al Islam (countries ruled by Islamic law), thus banning jihad. But calls to reform Islam, such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s are not tolerated, so don’t hold your breath.
While the West cannot stop Islamist ideology, it could and should do more to diminish its lure by militarily decisively defeating ISIS forces and their affiliated jihadi terror groups while using all available methods to counter and debunk their propaganda, as it did with the Nazis.
In the meantime, even without such strategy, we are likely to be faced by ever growing threats and corresponding restrictions to our liberties, none of which would be limited by sending more arms to the Iraqi army that would end up fueling the spreading of ISIS’s jihadist fire.