On Tuesday, I received the latest briefing from one of my best geopolitical/intelligence sources, LIGNET (Langley Intelligence Network, subscription-only), regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the ruthless band of terrorists that has seized control of large parts of northern Iraq and western Syria. ISIS numbers have surged from 5,000-10,000 last year to an estimated 60,000-80,000 today and are growing rapidly.
Later on Tuesday, we learned that ISIS had beheaded American photojournalist James Foley and threatened to behead even more Americans if the US does not stop the air attacks on the terror group. It remains to be seen what will happen next.
ISIS is known for brutally murdering thousands of innocents across Syria and Iraq, especially Christians and any other non-Muslims. They are given two choices – convert to Islam or die. They regularly rape the women and girls and often behead the male victims. ISIS is so brutal and inhumane that it has been disowned by al Qaeda.
LIGNET’s briefing on Tuesday was an update on the growing number of European Muslims that have joined ISIS in the fight – now estimated to be at least 7,000 – and a warning that many of these terrorists are returning to their home countries in Europe to carry out terrorist acts.
According to LIGNET:
“A growing army of Islamist fighters, thousands of whom carry European passports, is busy learning the terror trade in areas of Iraq now controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. European-born fighters have been instrumental in the organization’s stunning military successes so far, but their greatest contribution to the jihadist cause may come when they return home.
The ISIS is laying the groundwork for the reintroduction of potentially thousands of trained jihadists anxious to attack European targets. Some already have been hit, while other plans have been foiled. European governments have implemented limited countermeasures, but that might not be enough to disrupt large-scale future attacks in Europe and possibly the United States.”
After occupying major cities such as Mosul and triggering the collapse of the Maliki government in Baghdad, ISIS shows no sign of being satisfied with its gains in the Middle East. In fact, these ruthless jihadists believe it is their god-called duty to relentlessly promote intolerance, hatred and violence wherever possible, particularly against “infidel nations” such as the United States.
Of late, an increasing number of these battle-tested warriors are returning home to France, Germany and large English cities such as London and Manchester – all of which have sizable Muslim populations that the terrorists can disappear into, bent on carrying out terrorist actions across Europe. ISIS influence has already spread throughout several European nations.
According to LIGNET:
- In June, Mehdi Nemmouche, a Muslim born in France who fought in Syria, was arrested in connection with the murder of four Jews at a museum in Brussels.
- In the Netherlands on July 24, ISIS supporters flew the group’s black flag and chanted “Death to the Jews” in a demonstration approved by the local council. The black flag also has been seen flying over a building in east London, a heavily populated Muslim area.
- Last fall, Britain’s domestic security service, MI-5, broke up a plot aimed at carrying out a large attack in London similar to the one in Mumbai, India in November 2008 when 10 Pakistani terrorists killed 164 people in a broad assault against numerous buildings, including a cinema, the railway station, a cafe and two hotels.
In advancing its goals, ISIS has several distinct advantages. It is well-financed both through contributions from wealthy nations and thinly-veiled “charities” operating in those countries – as well as the financial windfall it received following its conquests in Iraq, including the looting of several large banks.
ISIS also benefits from large numbers of mostly young Muslims living in Europe who have never been assimilated into those societies. Many Europeans have little more than open disdain for Muslims living among them. It is for this reason that ISIS members returning to their home countries will find it easy to recruit more members.
The US had the opportunity to greatly damage or even eliminate ISIS last year when President Obama considered targeted air strikes in Syria but decided against it. It is still not impossible for a coordinated US/EU air mission to significantly reduce the threat. But once these terrorists return to their home countries, they are virtually impossible to track.
LIGNET, a non-partisan organization, ends its serious warning this week as follows:
“The key to reducing the threat to Europe and the United States is defeating
the ISIS in the Middle East, but President Obama has rejected that objective.”
It remains to be seen if the latest ghastly beheading of American James Foley will be enough to change President Obama’s mind.
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