Threat of ISIS Still Real
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
During his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Trump delighted in reporting that Islamic State forces had been defeated in virtually all of the territory they had seized over recent years. But even he admitted, “There is much more work to be done.”
It is certainly true that ISIS forces no longer dominate portions of Iraq and Syria. But what became of the thousands of fighters who waged bloody warfare remains a concern of realists who comment about developments regarding ISIS. One assessment of what happens next was provided by Otso Iho, a senior analyst at London-based Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. As noted by the New York Times, this expert reported: “The group is transitioning into an underground organization that places more weight on asymmetric tactics like suicide bombings against soft targets in government-secured areas like Baghdad.”
Iho pointed to a recent suicide attack in Baghdad that killed several dozen and wounded close to 100. The incident occurred at a busy location in the Iraqi capital where laborers gather daily in hopes of being hired by someone.
How many of the thousands of ISIS warriors have discarded their uniforms and are melting into the populations of Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere isn’t known. But anyone who has studied ISIS and its efforts over the past four years knows that the number of dedicated Islamic warriors reaches into the tens of thousands. Some of these who have fled the formerly held caliphate and can be found in Libya, Yemen, Turkey, even the Philippines. Of these, many have joined never-defeated branches of Al Qaeda in those nations.
The number of Americans who traveled to ISIS-held territory in order to become an Islamist warrior number less than one thousand. But, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s senior counter terrorism official, more than 5,000 Europeans left their homes and became ISIS fighters. Some perished and a few are still fighting. But 1,500 have returned to their European countries and each can be legitimately by labeled a potential terrorist. America’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Paul Selva summarized the situation in grim detail:
The thought that these foreign fighters who have participated in this fight now for over two years will quietly leave Syria and return to their jobs as shopkeepers in Paris, in Brussels, in Copenhagen, and elsewhere is ludicrous. That’s a very compelling problem.
The motivation keeping these men tied to ISIS and its determination to establish a dominant Islamic caliphate surely includes the promise of heavenly bliss for those who perish for Allah. It additionally promises the same glorious afterlife for suicide bombers. In other words, the problem presented when ISIS emerged several years ago hasn’t been solved by routing its military arm.
The West, certainly including the United States, has to expect more terror-inspired attacks.
Yes, the Troops Going to Syria Will Be Wearing Boots
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
For many years, prominent leaders in the U.S. government have worked to get our country into wars. They seem to know that war always means more government, and they likely also realize that war speeds moral decline which paves the way for assumption of even more power.
Early in his presidency, Barack Obama promised to end America’s involvement in Middle Eastern wars, even to reduce America’s military presence in the region. Those promises didn’t last long.
The U.S. Constitution is very clear about the need for a congressional declaration of war to send U.S. forces into any conflict. That requirement has been in the dustbin of history ever since it was last employed in 1941 immediately after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Significantly, the struggle known as World War II is the last conflict America won.
Congressional inability or unwillingness to demand adherence to the Constitution war-making clause led to congressional passage of the War Powers Act in 1973. It said that a president must ask Congress to approve his use of our nation’s forces when he wants to or when he already has sent them into any conflict. It was a weak attempt to address government’s misuse of military might, and it clearly amounts to congressional willingness to ignore what the Constitution states. But even it has been ignored as recent presidents have obtained authorization for war from the United Nations.
Over the past five years, Mr. Obama has sent military trainers to aid rebel forces in Syria and he has approved air strikes against ISIS and its control of a portion of that embattled nation. But he has repeatedly stated that he would not put “American boots on the ground in Syria.”
In September 2014, Obama said he would continue the airstrikes and expand the battle against ISIS. Air strikes are clearly a tactic of war. But he firmly maintained, “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” After the terrorist attacks in Europe and America, he announced sending an additional 250 U.S. troops to Syria. “They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground,” he insisted. “But they will be essential in providing training and assisting local forces.”
Somehow, those 250 additional members of the U.S. military are not to be considered combatants participating in a war zone. What should they do if the forces of ISIS attack them? Or if one of the rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syria’s government attacks them? Can they fight back? Shouldn’t they expect to be targeted? What will be America’s response be if some are killed or wounded? Might the presence of U.S. military forces in this area encourage more terrorist attacks against our nation and others?
“No boots on the ground in Syria,” said Mr. Obama numerous times. Yet, the 250 who are joining other “trainers” in Syria will surely be wearing boots. And the potential for more Americans to be sent into this region grows almost daily. This piecemeal approach is how the Vietnam War started and grew so greatly before being lost.
Our nation seems to be heading into another conflict with no constitutional declaration of war. If combatting the military forces of ISIS with U.S. troops is deemed necessary, the only way to proceed is to declare war and then win it. Don’t seek authorization from the UN. Don’t play semantic games with the lives of those who serve in our nation’s military.
Wars should be won, not dragged out with half-measures, political jargon, and a clear unwillingness to rely on the U.S. Constitution. If military action is called for, only a clear intention to declare war with an intention to win is acceptable. The only other course would be to cease having the U.S. be the policeman of the world, bring the troops home from the more than 100 nations where they currently are, start minding only America’s business, and Get US OUT! of the United Nations.
U.S. Ground Forces Entering the Syrian Conflict
by JBS President John F. McManus
The civil war to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is now in its fourth year. No end is in sight.
American planes have bombed selected targets in Syria and nothing changed. President Obama has seven times insisted that he would not order U.S. ground forces into the fray. “No boots on the ground,” he repeatedly stated. But that just changed when he decided to send 50 of our nation’s Special Forces into the war-torn country. Will they be outfitted with sneakers instead of boots? We are told they are not supposed to participate in any battles, just play an advisory role. What happens when any of the 50 Special Forces get killed or wounded? The likely outcome of such a development would be sending in more U.S. troops.
Watch the press briefing discussing the Special Forces deployment below:
At least three factions are seeking to replace Assad. One is backed by Russia, another is allied with ISIS (already controlling a sizable portion of the country), and still another consists of Syrians fed up with Assad. American planes have already made at least a thousand bombing runs against factions not approved by our leaders. There could easily be an air war over the country if Russian planes and U.S. planes bomb the other’s favored group. Will the mess escalate into a conflict between the U.S. and Russia?
Meanwhile, the Obama promise to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan has been cancelled and 10,000 will remain. Elsewhere, our intervention in Libya has been a disaster. Also, U.S. drones have wreaked havoc in Yemen with nothing to show for the effort except death and destruction for Yemenis. And Iraq remains in turmoil after all the lies about weapons of mass destruction spurred President G.W. Bush to invade.
The American people ought to be asking why previous failed policies in several countries are being repeated in others. We can only hope that the Obama policies will become a serious debate topic during the current presidential race.
All of the actions noted above constitute war. But the U.S. Constitution clearly places sole power to have the U.S. at war in the hands of Congress, not the President. Yet UN authorization here and NATO (a UN subsidiary) direction elsewhere have been employed to have our forces go to war. Questions have to be asked: Is our nation’s military effort being dictated by the world body? Is Mr. Obama quietly seeking or receiving orders from the UN to dispatch U.S. forces in limited roles all over the Middle East?
One or more of the GOP candidates should be asking these questions. Let’s hope they do so.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
Threat Posed by ISIS Spreads
by JBS President John F. McManus
Recently, when ISIS revolutionaries murdered 21 Christians in Libya, they sent a video message to the world threatening to move on to Rome. It stated: “Today we are south of Rome. We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.” Many Italians laughed at such blustering. We don’t think they should be laughing.
ISIS made headlines during the past year when its forces seized portions of Syria and Iraq and declared the conquered area a “caliphate” and announced that its leader was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. More headlines announced a series of beheadings, a threat to move on to Baghdad, and a campaign against Yezidism, a small religious sect whose adherents were classified as infidels. Now seemingly stalled within the confines of their caliphate, ISIS has recently gained additional partisans in Libya and in northern Sudan where the murderous Boko Haram has terrorized area residents.
Recruits by the tens of thousands have relocated to the ISIS caliphate in order to assist al-Baghdadi. They came from France, England, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, United States, and elsewhere to enlist in a force that intends to rule the planet. A report in the New York Times told of three teenage girls from Scotland who had just abandoned their families and moved on to Syria where they will marry jihadists and support the caliphate. The recruiter for these girls, also from Scotland but living in Syria after relocating a year ago, contacted her anguished parents and informed them that she had no intention of returning and would see them again only on “judgment day” in heaven.
Passports of some French young people suspected of wanting to go to Syria have been confiscated by the authorities. In Australia, Prime Minister Abbott announced measures to tighten security and prevent possible emigration of anyone seeking to travel to ISIS. Similar moves have been taken in the U.S.
Writing in The Atlantic after meeting with ISIS supporters in England, Australia, and elsewhere, journalist Graeme Wood pointed to the importance held by ISIS believers in establishing their caliphate. In Britain, well-known Islamic State cheerleader Anjem Choudray explained that haphazard offensive jihad is of no value without a caliphate and that waging war to expand its domination is essential. Choudray even claims that crucifixions and beheadings are “sacred requirements.” Wood noted that, according to the Islamic scholars he interviewed, sacred doctrine requires believers to reside in the caliphate. This impels Muslims to drop everything wherever they currently reside and head for the portion of Syria controlled by ISIS.
President Barack Obama insists that that ISIS is “not Islamic.” Is he correct? Does he agree with the Italians who consider laughable any threat from ISIS? He insists that Islam is a peaceful religion that is being used by bad people. Time will tell if the threat posed by ISIS is a local problem or a threat to the entire world.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
A Warning to the West From a Catholic Bishop Who Had To Flee Iraq
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Chaldean Catholic Church, one of the approved rites of Catholicism, traces its roots back to the Thomas the Apostle in the First Century A.D. It grew dramatically throughout the Middle East between the 9th and 14th centuries. Until very recently, one of its main churches was St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Iraq city of Mosul.
“Recently” is the key word in any current discussion of Mosul’s Chaldean Catholics. When the city was overrun by the militants known as ISIS only weeks ago, Catholics became their main target. Many who would not convert to Islam have been killed; many more have left everything and fled. Mosul’s Archbishop Amel Shimoun Nona took refuge with some of his flock in the Kurd-controlled city of Erbil in northeastern Iraq, an area not yet overrun by ISIS. From there, he sent a message to fellow Christians in Europe and the West pointing out that they should beware because all are targets of an “enemy you have welcomed into your home.”
Archbishop Nona’s stark warning stated, “I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. Please try to understand. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You think that all men are equal, but Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become victims.”
Christians in nearby Syria have already experienced this same type of attack. In Africa, the Islamist Boko Haram has kidnapped many hundreds of schoolgirls and killed hundreds more adults and children. Archbishop Nona hopes that no one would have to endure what he and his people have faced. Welcoming more Muslims, he contends, is suicidal. “Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, European and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future,” he claims and adds, “You must take strong and courageous decisions.”
What the Archbishop of Mosul has already experienced does not have to happen elsewhere. But, to avoid such a fate, realization of an actual threat that could be duplicated in other countries will have to take hold.
Open Border Now Attracting Syrian Refugees
by JBS President John F. McManus
A report in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal notes that refugees from the three-year-old conflict in Syria are now arriving in the United States. While we can surely sympathize with them, we do not sympathize with the way they are gaining entry. Tourist visas to Mexico start their procedure enabling them to cross into the U.S. and present themselves as asylum seekers. All they need do when turning themselves in to a customs official is claim “credible fear” of reappearing in their homeland.
The Journal article noted that, during 2013, more than 36,000 individuals from a variety of countries have credibly claimed such fear and 84 percent (not all Syrians) have been awarded entry. The number is expected to increase. From his San Diego office, immigration attorney Alan Anzarouth has been helping Syrian refugees and expects that “many more Syrians” will enter the U.S. through our southern border.
The obvious reason a Syrian refugee will travel to Mexico when his ultimate goal is to get to the United States is his knowledge that millions have already entered the U.S. illegally through the porous border. The U.S. government has never met its responsibility to stop the huge, almost totally illegal, migration. That responsibility appears in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which grants power to Congress to “repel invasions.” Also, in Article IV, Section 4 there is mentioned the duty of the federal government that it “protect each of them [the states] from invasion.” This doesn’t specify “military” invasion. Somewhere between 11 and 20 million have entered our nation illegally in recent years. The costs to individual states for welfare, medical care, criminal activity, and even threats of revolution have been enormous. Though not in the numbers previously seen, border crossers are still coming. America has indeed been invaded and federal responsibility to stop it has been sorely lacking.
Since 2011, more than two million Syrians have left their home country and fled elsewhere. Some restrictions have made it more difficult to obtain a U.S. visa, hence starting the trek by entering Mexico where “tourist” visas are far more easily obtained. These displaced people obviously don’t want to stay in Mexico and they regularly head for the U.S. border.
Failure to deal with any responsibility usually leads to greater problems. Such is the case with the failure of the federal government to meet its constitutional obligations regarding illegal immigration. How many more Syrians will take advantage of such laxity remains to be seen. But we can be sure the number will grow. Our federal government does a lot that it shouldn’t do while frequently failing to do what it is supposed to do.