Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Islamic State

The Islamic State rends the fabric of Western civilization

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

It had been a long time since a foreign power darkened the City of Light, but the Islamic State did just that last week. Hours after President Barack Obama declared that “we have contained them,” the Islamic State killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more in synchronous suicide attacks on several locations in Paris.

The Paris attack is, sadly, another in a string of attacks perpetrated by the Islamic State as they have continued their aggressive growth. From a small band of terrorists forged in the power vacuum of Iraq in 2011, the Islamic State has grown into a powerful, depraved quasi-nation with separatist outposts on three continents.

Since June, the Islamic State has killed 38 tourists on a beach in Tunisia; 102 people in Ankara, Turkey; 224 people on a Russian airplane leaving Egypt; 18 people at a funeral in Baghdad; 44 people in south Beirut; and many other smaller attacks. They have been flexing their terrorist muscles on foreign soil in an effort to strike terror into their enemies, recruit more fanatics to their cause and fulfill what they believe to be their sacred duty to kill anyone who does not share their Islamic faith.

The attacks in Paris were not an aberration. They were the furtherance of a strategy. There will be more. Many more.

How should America respond to the certainty that America will soon see attacks like those that have been spreading to other nations?

On the defensive side of the coin, there is a lot that we can do. The Islamic State has shown an affinity to strike at soft targets — places where there are large groups of unarmed people. Take the Paris attacks as an example. The attacks were coordinated to happen at the same time, but they were not particularly sophisticated. They did not require a tremendous amount of preparation, money or time to carry out. It took less than 10 fanatics who were willing to die for their cause to assemble some crude, inexpensive weaponry, and fan out into the city at the same time. A couple of the thugs failed to penetrate a stadium and were limited to only killing a couple of people. Some of them just massacred theatergoers without any plan other than to kill until they were killed. What should worry us is the ease of which a handful of slapdash terrorists can kill so many.

These kinds of attacks could easily happen in America. One way to make them more difficult and mitigate the damage when they occur is to harden our targets. Americans have long been a proud, independent, free people who took responsibility for safeguarding their liberties against all threats. Any American who is able should consider it their duty to arm themselves and be prepared to defend themselves and others. When a terrorist reaches his hand out in America, he should feel the thorns instead of the rose.

Our public policy should align with supporting a free people vigorously protecting their liberties. Instead of politicians carving out more soft targets with gun-free zones and onerous restrictions on law-abiding citizens, they should remind Americans that each of us take responsibility for the liberties that we all share. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is advocating policies that would disarm more Americans in a naive and disingenuous promise that the government can protect us all the time. It is worth remembering that Paris has some of the strictest gun restrictions in the world.

On offense, the choices are far less clear. The Islamic State is run by people who consider it their religious duty to kill us. In fact, they consider killing us to be a path to paradise. Such people cannot be swayed with diplomacy or soothed by concessions. The only way to stop them is to imprison them or kill them — and there are not enough jails to imprison all of them.

But America should not be the only nation to expend blood and treasure to eliminate a threat to all of Western civilization. While the Islamic State can reach America, its proximity to other nations makes their cooperation both necessary and possible. America should lead in building a broad coalition of international forces to invade the Islamic State’s strongholds with overwhelming force. They cannot be defeated with drones and squads. They can be defeated with tanks and divisions.

Unfortunately, building such a coalition is unlikely with President Barack Obama in office. Under his direction, America has retreated from world leadership and ceded too much power to other nations. From his early abandonment of the Iranian rebels, to the evaporation of his “red line” for Syria, to his estrangement from Israel, to his silence on Ukraine, to his cold shoulder to Poland, foreign leaders do not trust Obama enough to enter into such a precarious enterprise with him. Much like Obama is incapable of building coalitions among his own countrymen in Congress, he lacks the skills and temperament to build and lead an international coalition against the Islamic State. Americans will just have to hunker down and wait for the next president to take on the difficult task of eliminating the Islamic State.

France Strikes Back


(CNN)French fighter jets bombed a series of ISIS sites in Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday in what officials described as a major bombardment.

The targets included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.

ISIS claims Raqqa as the capital of its so-called caliphate. The airstrikes come two days after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which France’s President described as “an act of war.”

Islamic State Can’t Strike America

So says our government.

Antalya, Turkey (CNN)President Barack Obama’s national security team is sending a message Sunday that might lend at least a glimmer of reassurance to Americans traumatized by the terror attacks in Paris.

Saying that while the ISIS ambition is certainly there to launch similar attacks on U.S. shores, the capability is not great.

My confidence level in the accuracy of that statement is statistically indistinguishable from zero.

Islamic State’s Shifting Tactics

The strategy remains the same.

These are not isolated, lone wolf, spur-of-the-moment attacks.

Although not necessarily difficult to execute, these attacks still took planning, preparation, training, sourcing of weapons and explosives, reconnaissance of the target and the careful recruitment of so-called “martyrs” – fanatical young men prepared to carry them out in the full knowledge they will probably die doing so.

This is far more reminiscent of al-Qaeda’s modus operandi in the early 2000s, going for big publicity, high-casualty attacks that make headlines around the world.

Western counter-terrorism officials had recently come round to the conclusion that while there were still people aspiring to such grand-scale attacks, the prevailing threat was more likely to come from “self-starters”, people like the murderers of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich near London in 2013.

In the light of what has happened in Paris and elsewhere, they may now be revising that assessment.

Obama: “We have contained them.”

So wrong

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous that was conducted Thursday and broadcast Friday — just hours before the Paris attack — President Obama proclaimed that ISIS had been contained.

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” he said peevishly when challenged by Stephanopolous. “From the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them.”

“Days are Numbered”

I wish I was as optimistic, but this is just bluster without anything behind it.

Tunis (AFP) – US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday warned the Islamic State jihadist group its “days are numbered”, following an American strike in Syria targeting British militant “Jihadi John”.

“The coalition forces conducted an air strike targeting…Jihadi John,” whose real name is Mohammed Emwazi, he said on a visit to Tunis.

“We are still assessing the results of this strike but the terrorists associated with Daesh need to know this: Your days are numbered and you will defeated,” said Kerry, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

“There is no future, no path forward” for IS, the secretary of state said.

While Kerry wants to spike the football after spending millions of dollars to kill one man, under Obama’s watch we have seen IS spread from a rag-tag group of malcontents to an organized force that infects two continents and has a solid base of power. We don’t have a perceptible strategy to do anything to inhibit IS’ growth. Frankly, as we all know it, IS has far more to fear from Putin than Obama. Putin has shown a willingness to follow up his words with action.

Islamic State Going After America’s Power Grid

This is why you can’t let evil fester – even if it’s currently thousands of miles away.

The Islamic State is trying to hack American electrical power companies — but they are terrible at it.

U.S. law enforcement officials revealed the hack attempts on Wednesday at a conference of American energy firms who were meeting about national security concerns.

“ISIL is beginning to perpetrate cyberattacks,” Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security, told company executives.

Iraq and Syria Will Cease to Exist

In other words, the Islamic State is winning.

“I’m having a tough time seeing it come back together,” Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told an industry conference, speaking of Iraq and Syria, both of which have seen large chunks territory seized by the Islamic State.

On Iraq, Stewart said he is “wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq,” suggesting he believed it was unlikely. On Syria, he added: “I can see a time in the future where Syria is fractured into two or three parts.”

That is not the U.S. goal, he said, but it’s looking increasingly likely.

CIA Director John Brennan, speaking on the same panel at an industry conference, noted that the countries’ borders remain in place, but the governments have lost control of them. A self-declared caliphate by the Islamic State straddles the border between both countries.

ISIS Continues Destruction of History

So sad.

Islamic State militants have destroyed Palmyra’s ancient temple of Baalshamin, Syrian officials and activists say.

Syria’s head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on Sunday. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago.

IS Kills Palmyra Archaeologist

Sad, for so many reasons.

The man who looked after the Roman ruins in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra is reported to have been killed by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Khaled Asaad was taken hostage by the group after it seized the Unesco World Heritage site earlier this year.

The family of the 82-year-old scholar said he had been beheaded by IS fighters, according to Syria’s director of antiquities, Maamoun Abdulkarim.

Mr Asaad had spent more than 50 years working on Palmyra.

He was head of antiquities at the ancient ruins, which is considered one of the most important historic sites in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia Arrests Alleged Islamic State Terrorists


Saudi security forces have arrested 431 suspected members of the Islamic State militant group, officials say.

They are accused of plotting suicide attacks on security forces and mosques in various parts of the country.

Most of the suspects are Saudi citizens, but they also include people from six nationalities, including Yemen and Syria, the interior ministry said.

Islamic State Kills 97 People in Nigeria

I’ve been informed by my president that these kinds of killings only happen in America.

The people of Kukawa were in several mosques, praying ahead of breaking their daylong fast, when the extremists attacked. They killed 97 people, mainly men, said self-defense spokesman Abbas Gava and a senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.

Gava said his group’s fighters in Kukawa said some militants also broke into people’s homes, killing women and children as they prepared the evening meal.

Kukawa is 180 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria and the birthplace of Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s homegrown extremist group often defiles mosques where it believes clerics espouse too moderate a form of Islam. Wednesday’s attack follows a directive from the Islamic State group for fighters to increase attacks during Ramadan. Boko Haram this year became the IS group’s West African franchise.

Islamic States Punishes Boys for Eating During Ramadan

Yes, they are still terrorizing people.

Beirut (AFP) – The Islamic State group on Monday made two youths hang from a beam by their wrists after accusing them of eating during daylight hours in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said.

“Residents of the village of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province reported that IS suspended from a crossbar two boys aged under 18 near the HQ of the Hissba”, the jihadist police, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

“The children have been suspended by ropes from a pole since noon, and they were still there in the late evening,” he said.

Life In the Islamic State

It ain’t pretty.

There is no safe way out. People vanish — their disappearance sometimes explained by an uninformative death certificate, or worse, a video of their beheading.

“People hate them, but they’ve despaired, and they don’t see anyone supporting them if they rise up,” said a 28-year-old Syrian who asked to be identified only by the nickname he uses in political activism, Adnan, in order to protect his family, which still lives under IS rule. “People feel that nobody is with them.”

The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 Iraqis and Syrians describing life under the group’s rule. One AP team travelled to Eski Mosul, a village on a bend in the Tigris River north of Mosul where residents emerged from nearly seven months under IS rule after Kurdish fighters drove the extremists out in January. IS forces remain dug in only a few miles away, so close that smoke is visible from fighting on the front lines.

Islamic State Provoking Unrest in Saudi Arabia

Let’s throw some Iranian nukes in the mix and see what happens.

It would like nothing better than to trigger a fully blown sectarian war between Sunni and Shia in Saudi Arabia, which is home to the two holiest sites in Islam, in Mecca and Medina.

IS likes to present itself to Sunnis as being the sole force in the region capable enough and willing to push back against the creeping advance of Iran’s Shia allies.

As part of that narrative it would like to pull in more of the mainstream Sunni population behind its banners to resist what it sees as a heretical Persian-inspired apostate creed.

Islamists Kill 20 in Palmyra Amphitheatre


The hardline Sunni militants took control of the central city, also known as Tadmur, from government forces last week and have killed at least 200 people and taken around 600 captive, according to the Observatory.

“They executed around 20 men in the Roman amphitheatre and called people to watch,” said the Observatory’s Rami Abdulrahman, citing sources inside the city.

Supporters of Islamic State wrote on Twitter that a number of people had been killed by the group inside the amphitheatre, which forms part of the city’s 2,000-year-old ruins which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Islamic State’s takeover of Palmyra marked the first time the group had seized a Syrian city directly from government control. The other population centers it holds were mostly taken from rival insurgent groups in Syria’s four-year conflict.

ISIS Continues to Slaughter

We are witness to a genocide.

Islamic State militants have executed at least 400 mostly women and children in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra.

Eye-witnesses have reported the streets are strewn with bodies – the latest victims of the Islamic State’s unrelenting savagery – on the same day photographs of captured Syrian soldiers have emerged.

It follows the killing of nearly 300 pro-government troops two days after they captured the city, now symbolised by a black ISIS flag flying above an ancient citadel.

ISIS Takes Ramadi

These city names sure do bring back memories.

The Iraqi city of Ramadi has fallen to Islamic State (IS) after government forces abandoned their positions, officials say.

The police and military made a chaotic retreat after days of intense fighting.

But the US refused to confirm the capture, saying the situation was “fluid and contested” and it was too early to make “definitive statements”.

Ramadi is the capital of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, and is just 70 miles (112km) west of Baghdad.



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