In Case You Were Wondering, Terrorism is Still a Thing
In Case You Were Wondering, Terrorism is Still a Thing
Although, our government leaders seem to have moved on from counterterrorism efforts to Iran and Venezuela, and President Trump declared ISIS defeated a few months ago, I’d like to assure you that terrorism is still a thing.
It is true that ISIS lost the vast majority of its territory in Iraq and Syria, but those who think the terrorist group has somehow vanished, need to step back and look closer.
Terrorism is far from dead.
Just a few short months ago, ISIS announced new branches in India and Pakistan. Although, it appears to be little more than a propaganda campaign to obfuscate its losses and Iraq and Syria, the attacks on innocent people continue unabated.
ISIS claimed to have assassinated a police officer in Mastung, south-west Balochistan, and hit rival Taliban fighters in Quetta, killing one and wounding three.
Both killings were attributed to a new “Pakistan Province” of the group.
Analysts said the group was trying to restructure and rebuild after the loss of its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. It is shifting towards a decentralised network of terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram (Islamic State in West Africa) attacked a funeral in Nigeria yesterday, murdering 65 innocent people, and Islamic State extremists attacked a military base in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state after ambushing a military vehicle nearby and killing six soldiers last week. Also last week, Boko Haram attacked a vehicle with a bunch of aid workers in Nigeria last week, and abducted six innocent people who were there to provide humanitarian assistance to the people. And who can forget the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka by ISIS adherents?
For those of you who are jumping to the administration’s defense, and claiming that these attacks are taking place overseas, that no one gives a shit about Africa, and that terrorism is no longer a threat to us, I would also submit that the FBI just arrested two ISIS supporters in Arizona, both Somalian refugees who were trying to travel to Egypt to support ISIS-Sinai, or if they couldn’t travel, launch an attack here in the United States – the very country that gave one of these swine legal permanent residency and the other refugee status.
And just a couple of months ago, an ISIS supporter in Arizona decided to attack himself a police officer.
And ISIS continues to plot attacks against the United States, and despite its loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, the group’s messaging to its supporters worldwide continues unabated. In his Congressional testimony a week ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray clearly articulated the threat:
In recent years, prolific use of social media by FTOs has greatly enhanced their ability to disseminate messages. We have also been confronting a surge in terrorist propaganda and training available via the Internet and social media. Due to online recruitment and indoctrination, FTOs are no longer dependent on finding ways to get terrorist operatives into the United States to recruit and carry out acts of terrorism. Terrorists in ungoverned spaces—both physical and virtual—readily disseminate propaganda and training materials to attract easily influenced individuals around the world to their cause. They motivate these individuals to act at home or encourage them to travel. This is a significant transformation from the terrorist threat our nation faced a decade ago.
Despite their territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, ISIS remains relentless and ruthless in its campaign of violence against the West and has aggressively promoted its hateful message, attracting like-minded violent extremists. The message is not tailored solely to those who overtly express signs of radicalization. It is seen by many who enter messaging apps and participate in social networks. Ultimately, many of the individuals drawn to ISIS seek a sense of belonging. Echoing other terrorist groups, ISIS has advocated for lone offender attacks in Western countries. Recent ISIS videos and propaganda have specifically advocated for attacks against soldiers, law enforcement, and intelligence community personnel.
ISIS may have lost some territory, but it’s far from dead and far from defeated.
And that’s why the resignation of Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence and the President’s nomination of John Ratcliffe – a previously little-known Congressman who was catapulted to fame after berating former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during congressional hearings last week – is concerning. Ratcliffe had apparently been under consideration for the job for a few months, but White House staff didn’t think he was aggressive enough. Until last week.
It is no secret that Dan Coats butted heads with the President about Russia’s interference in US elections, and the former finally resigned after language he had written on Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2018 midterms by spreading disinformation was reportedly altered by the White House – making the language less harsh.
Whether reports about the White House watering down the language about continued Russian interference in US elections are true or not, appearances do matter. Coats’ resignation and the subsequent nomination of a Congressman who made a show out of exhibiting his loyalty to the President on national television, but otherwise has little to no experience with the intelligence community, sends a message that ODNI is now a political entity and that the Director – the highest intelligence official in the land – is little more than a political hack, who will toe the administration’s line, instead of objectively advocating for our nation’s national security.
And whereas Dan Coats – the former Republican senator from Indiana – took his job seriously, realizing that there should be no partisan intelligence, but rather rigorous and objective analysis, which often put him at odds with the Trump administration, I’m more than a little concerned that Ratcliffe will simply bow to whatever the administration wants. And even the appearance of politicization of the ODNI could embolden our adversaries and fall in line with the administration’s fading focus on terrorism.
While the Trump administration celebrates what it claims to be the “defeat” of ISIS, the terrorism threat from ISIS is far from over, and the next DNI needs to recognize it and act accordingly instead of bowing to premature claims of defeat.
Barack Obama made the mistake of proclaiming victory over al-Qa’ida when he was President and called its offspring ISIS the “JV team.” Well, guess what, boys and girls! Al-Qa’ida is alive and well and plotting against the United States. And while the Trump administration negotiates with the Taliban over the future of Afghanistan, Taliban militants apparently carried out a deadly bombing in Kabul, targeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate a couple of days ago.
Terrorism is far from gone, and the next DNI needs to understand the threat and objectively work to neutralize it.
One can only hope that Ratcliffe will do exactly that, because the Trump administration seems to be turning its back on the threat.