According to U.S. counterterrorism officials, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – the group that is rampaging through Iraq, beheading any whom they deem infidels and non-believers – have their sights set on terrorist activity inside the United States. As reported by Yahoo News, the insurgent group is well-armed, well-funded, and seeks to expand their reign of terror outside the borders of Syria and Iraq.
According to officials, ISIL’s march across Iraqi territory this year has not only resulted in the deaths of hundreds of foes both political and religious, but it has also had the side effect of feeding into the Islamic extremist group’s arsenal. They have ransacked at least two Iraqi military bases, taking with them a metric ton of U.S. weapons, hundreds of tanks, dozens of armored Humvees, rifles, grenade-launchers, and more. They’ve amassed an armory strong enough to cause one U.S. official to remark that ISIL was now the “most potent military force” of any terrorist group in the world.
As of now, official estimates place ISIL’s membership at around 10,000, but counterterrorism officials say that number is likely to grow upon reassessment. Worse yet, many of these extremists have come from outside the country. Instead of staying to help the fight in Iraq, some of them are being sent home to their respective countries to form terrorist cells abroad. By selling oil and seizing banks, the group has managed to fund themselves extraordinarily well, meaning they have the money, the means, and the motive to carry out devastating attacks even in the United States.
At a briefing on Thursday, one U.S. analyst put the economic capabilities of the group in stark relief. “It has plenty of money. They control oil fields, they have refiners. They have hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Unfortunately, this is all happening under the not-so-watchful eye of a president whose primary foreign policy philosophy is reactionary in nature. Obama waited until ISIL (or ISIS, or whatever you want to call them) was within shouting distance of U.S. interests before authorizing airstrikes in Iraq. That won’t do this time. Former President Slick Willie Clinton adhered to a similar strategy throughout the 90s. It’s the kind of hands-off-unless-completely-necessary approach to defense that proves immensely popular with the American people…until it isn’t.
Clinton’s weak bombing runs through Afghanistan did nothing to stop the growth of Al Qaeda, and the end result was the catastrophe of 9/11. Bush’s wars in the Middle East were far less popular (by the end) than Clinton’s bomb-dabbling, but he at least had the courage of his convictions. While many insist that Bush’s motivations were profit-driven, even a cursory glance at his record shows that he was deeply principled and steadfastly determined to prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Is our current president similarly determined? The safety of millions of Americans may depend on the answer.