More than 150 Americans have joined 20,000 others fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS) and pose a clear and present danger of terrorist attacks in the United States.
The threat of violence in the United States from ISIS recruits could be carried out by less than a dozen “uncoordinated and unsophisticated” attacks, National Counter Terrorism Center director Nicholas Rasmussen said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday.
The Islamic State on which President Barack Obama wants Congress to declare war has grown into a monster that finally prompted the president on Wednesday to ask Congress to give him the power that he already has under the Constitution to unilaterally declare war.
Obama wants broad support, and his decision not to use the power under the Constitution and instead turn to Congress for support could make it difficult for future presidents to declare war at a time of emergency.
He has ordered Air Force strikes on ISIS by relying on a general Congressional authorization from 2002 for military operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist threats, but the ISIS’ success in working through social media in the United States has brought the threat of war to the shores of the United States.
US-led global task force raids have killed and wounded thousands of ISIS fighters, and it seems that for every one that dies, 10 new ones show up for the funeral.
“The number of those seeking to go to Iraq and Syria is going up,” Counterterrorism Director Nicholas Rasmussen testified at the hearing.
We assess that at least 3,400 of these fighters are from Western countries, and that number includes also over 150 U.S. persons who’ve either traveled to the conflict zone or attempted to do so.
Homeland Committee Chairman Michael T. McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said the Islamic State “now controls an area equal to the size of Belgium” despite US-led aerial bombings, and “governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers.”
“This evolving Islamic terrorist landscape has given rise to the dual threats of foreign fighters returning to the United States and homegrown terrorism,” he added.
McCaul cited ISIS social media for “inciting their followers and potential recruits to wage war…in their home countries, and it’s working.
“ISIS social media also gives step-by-step instructions on how to get to the fight and how to return,” he said.
The committee investigated profiles of American who have traveled or have tried to travel to join the ISIS and sis covered that they come various backgrounds without a single stereotype.
The list includes six teenagers from Chicago and Denver who were recruited online.
McCaul said he was “worried about our ability to combat this threat abroad, but also here at home.”
President Barack Obama has asked Congress for authorization to declare war on Islamic State with a limit of three years but no limit on geographical boundaries.
It took him more than four months since the Islamic State executed American hostage James Foley to ask for an official declaration of war.
If Congress approves the request, it will be the first time the United States goes to war against an organization and not a country.
The proposed authorization for military force against the Islamic State would:
Target the Islamic State and associated persons or forces, defined as those fighting with the Islamic State “in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners;”
Provide no geographic limits on the battle;
Limit ground troops by banning “enduring offensive ground combat operations;” and
Expire after three years unless renewed by Congress.
The authorization also would do away with the Congressional approval from 2002 for military force in Iraq. The president said in his letter to Congress that he hopes to be able to repeal the same authorization on which he has been relying for military operations force against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
President Obama composed his letter with explanations, each one beginning with “whereas,” to define the ISIS as an enemy threat to the United States.
He declared that the Islamic State, which he referred to as ISIL for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant , “poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.”
He pointed out that the Islamic State, more commonly known as ISIS, “holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria and has stated its intention to seize more territory and demonstrated the capability to do so” and that its leaders have stated intentions to attack the United States.
His fourth “whereas” appeared to be designed to further his premise that ISIS is not a part of Islam. He stated:
Whereas ISIL has committed despicable acts of violence and mass executions against Muslims, regardless of sect, who do not subscribe to ISIL’s depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology;
Whereas ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations;
President Obama seems to be afraid that Muslim countries will think that he wants to wage war against radical Islam, which would get him in a lot of trouble in certain Middle East countries that do not behead people willy-nilly but also do not tolerate anyone who does not obey Islamic law.
His carefully crafted letter, having stated that the ISIS is supposedly anti-Muslim, focused on the Islamic State’s “horrific acts of violence” that included “the deaths of [four] innocent United States citizens.”
Obama then brought the international community under the umbrella of a global alliance and noted the announcement last September at a NATO Summit “that ISIL poses a serious threat and should be countered by a broad international coalition.”
Congress is not totally happy with the idea, and Obama tried to make it easier to obtain authorization by writing:
The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.
The obvious problem with the language is the word “enduring,” something Congressmen will have to thrash out in discussions on the request for war on ISIS.
President Obama put the ball in Congress’ court and implied it is will bear the price if it does not declare war on ISIS.
If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all intend to try and make peace between Ukraine and Russia this week.
Kerry is already in Ukraine to show America’s support for the Kiev government.
Hollande told international media Thursday in Paris that he and Merkel would head first to Kiev and then to Moscow on Friday to present Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal “based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
NATO, meanwhile, is unveiling details of a plan to bolster its military presence in eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, according to the BBC. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the news service it will be the biggest reinforcement of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War, centering on a “spearhead” force of up to 5,000 troops with lead units able to deploy within two days. A network of command centers is being established in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, Stoltenberg said, in response to “the aggressive actions we have seen from Russia, violating international law and annexing Crimea.”
The French president described the months-long conflict with pro-Russia rebels that wreaked havoc in Ukraine as a full-fledged war. “Ukraine is at war. Heavy weapons are being used and civilians are being killed daily,” Hollande said.
Kerry told the BBC in Kiev that the U.S. wants to see a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but will not close its eyes to Russian aggression.
“We want a diplomatic resolution but we cannot close our eyes to tanks that are crossing the border from Russia and coming into Ukraine,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
More than 5,000 people have died in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebel troops, some of which include Russian “volunteers,” since April 2014. The eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk and Lugansk are both under rebel control.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ridiculed Israeli “restraint” and said the IDF needs to deliver a harsh blow to Hezbollah in retaliation for yesterday’s attack that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others.
The army retaliated with artillery fire to the source of the attack, and one UNIFIL soldier was killed,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was fierce with words but extremely cautious in the military response. As The Jewish Press wrote here this morning, Israel does not want all-out with Hezbollah, if for no other reason than because it would not end in victory because of Israel’s inability to buck the usual international community’s demand that Israel not try to destroy an enemy.
Lieberman used to be one of Israel’s loudest hawks until he decided to be dovish for the election campaign to try to dig up votes from the middle-of-the road sector.
Crippled by a lack of trust, compounded by a police investigation of several of his Yisrael Beiteinu cronies for bribery, Lieberman on Thursday jumped on Netanyahu for being the dove.
He wrote on his Facebook page Israel needs to deliver a disproportionate response that defeats terrorism” and that Hezbollah “wants a proportionate response because it would lead to a war of attrition and perpetuate the conflict.”
It’s time to take the glove off when dealing with terrorism,” Lieberman said, but as Foreign Minister, he knows very well that there is not enough widespread support among Israelis to attack deliver Hezbollah a death blow, if it can.
He also did not say he would take responsibility for the certain death and destruction in Israel from Hezbollah missiles if Israel were to deliver a “disproportionate response.”
Lieberman desperately needs votes, but he may have lost even more by reverting back to his old position of mowing down the enemy at all costs.
A “disproportionate response” certainly is the correct strategy but only in a better world, which might come if people like Lieberman did not go off the deep end to seek votes.
Neither Hezbollah nor Israel will go to war right now. Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah now any more than it could in the war n 2006, which ended in a military stalemate but a strategic victory for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah won’t go to war against Israel because it cannot afford to lose its already questionable prestige in Lebanon due to the terrorist party’s having entered the conflagration in Syria and bringing it inside Lebanon’s borders.
Hezbollah’s attack in Israel yesterday was an eye-for-an-eye retaliation for Israel’s pre-emptive bombing raid in Syria two weeks ago in which a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers and commanders were wiped out.
Their plan to attack the Israeli side of the Golan Heights bore out fears that Hezbollah wants to be able to strike Israel along the entire northern border, from the Mediterranean Coast of Lebanon to the eastern side of the Golan Heights.
“Hezbollah” does not just mean the terrorist party and army. It also means “Iran,” its financial and military mother.
“Hezbollah” also means “Lebanon,” to a large extent. Hassan Nasrallah’s party dominates the government, but the world recognizes “Lebanon” and not “Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah, diplomatically, is a state within a state. It has one of the largest military arsenals of any army in the world, with 120,000 missiles in Lebanon, and now in Syria, poised to pulverize not only northern Israel but also Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
It is an act of war when a country’s army attacks another nation and kills two soldiers. “Restraint” is not the proper response. The proper response is an all-out retaliation to end the enemy threat.
But officially, neither Lebanon nor Iran attacked Israel yesterday. The provocateur was a terrorist army and party. Israel cannot wipe out the Hezbollah army because, like Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, it operates from within civilian population centers and now also is located in the maze of hell that is called Syria,” which no longer exists as a nation except in name.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said yesterday, “My recommendation to those who challenge us in the north is to take a look at what happened in Gaza.”
Hamas had several thousand rockets, some of them sophisticated, but Israel’s Iron Dome system was able to intercept most of them. In addition, the land mass of Hamas-controlled Gaza is all of 139 square miles (360 square kilometers), surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and an unfriendly Egypt and Israel on the south, west and north.
Lebanon is nearly 30 times larger with 4,015 square miles (10,400 sq km). Besides the Mediterranean Sea on the west and Israel on the south, Lebanon — and Hezbollah — have Syria for a neighbor in the east and north.
Netanyahu said, “The (Israel Defense Forces) is responding now to the incident in the north. The IDF stands ready to act forcefully on all fronts.” In truth, he was only reassuring Israelis and sending shivers down the spines of the West, but he and Hezbollah know very well that Israel is not going to “act forcefully on all fronts.”
Israel does not have an anti-missile system that can protect the country against 120,000 missiles, some of them very long-range rocket and probably with chemical warheads. The IDF indeed could crush Lebanon. It could punish the country for allowing and actively supporting Hezbollah.
Before doing so, who knows how much Hezbollah would cripple Israel with missiles.
But everyone, especially Netanyahu, knows that any large-military operation would leave Israel isolated in the world
The United States stated yesterday its usual wishy-washy position that backs Israel with a big “but”:
We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.
That was the same language used every time Hamas attacks Israel with a missile.
Any Israeli attack would be “disproportionate.” The international community does not apply the rules of war when it comes to Israel, which always must show it is so Christian that it can turn the other cheek and not use force.
As disgusting it sounds, the bitter truth is that Israeli won’t go to war over the deaths of two soldiers. It should but it won’t.
Israeli does not have the self-confidence, spiritually and diplomatically, to attack Hezbollah and Lebanon.
Nine years ago, Hezbollah kidnapped and murdered two soldiers and sparked a five-week war that proved that exposed, once again, Israel’s real weakness.
The Foreign Minister at the time was Tzipi Livni, who now threatens to become the next Prime Minister of Israel on a rotational basis with Labor party chairman Yitzchak Herzog.
Livni signed on the dotted line of United Nations Resolution 1701 that was a cease-fire version of the Oslo Accords. Instead of the Palestinian Authority, it was the United Nations that promised to disarm “foreign armies,” without naming Hezbollah.
The resolution stated:
Pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.
The resolution called for:
Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon in parallel with Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout the South…
Disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon (implying but not stating Hezbollah)
No armed forces other than UNIFIL and Lebanese (implying Hezbollah and Israeli forces) will be south of the Litani River
No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government….
The importance of full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon .
Of course, Israel withdrew. Not only did UNIFIL not dis-arm Hezbollah, UNIFIL allowed it to continue to smuggle weapons from Iran, via Syria.
The resolution left Hezbollah ins a stronger than ever position and weakened Israel, which proved again its military may be strong but its backbone Is too weak to support a military victory to safeguard the country.
Below is a video of how Hezbollah terrorists escapes an Israel Air Force bombing of a missile launcher in the war in Lebanon in 2006.
The IDF reportedly moved Iron Dome anti-missile systems to defend northern communities Monday night in the wake of Hezbollah threats to punish Israel for Sunday’s spectacular counter-terror bombing raid that killed approximately a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighters.
The IDF told The Jewish Press, “We do not confirm or deny movements” of the Iron Dome systems, although the military previously has announced their redeployment against rockets from Gaza.
A picture of the Iron Dome being transported was posted on social media, but its location could not be verified.
Farmers in Metulla, which is smack on the northern border, were ordered off their fields by the IDF in SMS messages sent out Monday morning. Farmer Chaim Hod was quoted by Yediot Acharonot as saying that he and is workers began pruning apples tress at 6 a.m. and were ordered away from the orchards by mid-morning.
Several Metulla farms are located at the border, beyond a barbed wire fence, and are off-limits to anyone except the farmers and the IDF.
Reserve units stationed along the Lebanese border are on high alert, and several leaves of absence for regular soldiers have been cancelled.
Increased patrols were observed on both sides of the border, with UNIFIL, Lebanese and Israeli troops keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity.
UNIFIL troops are using night goggle and binoculars, according to sources quoted by the Beirut Daily Star.
Israel soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of Metulla, but civilians on both sides of the border do not seem concerned,
Hod said he actually feels safer when he sees both UNIFIL and Israeli soldiers beefing up patrols, and a Lebanese construction worker told the Star, “We are not afraid. As you see we are continuing construction work just a few kilometers from the Israelis.”
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said, “The IDF is prepared, tracking all developments, and ready to act as needed.” The air strike highlights the excellent level of Israeli intelligence operations, which are the key to carrying out counter-terror strikes and make Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah think twice and three times every time he moves.
As in the past, Israel warned Lebanon that it will be held responsible for any attacks by Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon and is an influential part of the fragile government.
The threat of a fierce Israeli retaliation to any Hezbollah aggression is a strong deterrent. Hezbollah has fallen into growing disfavor in strife-torn Lebanon because it has brought the war in Syria into Lebanon by fighting rebels to the Assad regime. Lebanese hate Israel but a devastating retaliation by the IDF to Hezbollah rockets would make the terrorist army and party even more unwanted.
Below is a video of the aftermath of the attack on Hezbollah and Iranian commanders, as seen in a telecast from southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah is threatening to take deadly revenge on Israel for Sunday’s strike on terrorists in Syria, but more significant is that Iran has admitted that one of its generals and (five or) six soldiers were killed in addition to Hezbollah’s casualties.
Lebanese sources identified the Iranian field commander as Abu Ali Tabtabai.
Also reported killed was Iranian General Mohammad Aji Alladadi, who was there as an advisor to the Syrian government.
Mohammad Issa “Abu Issa” who was a senior commander of Hezbollah’s Syrian and Iraq network.
Jihad Mughniyeh who was Hezbollah’s point man on the Golan Heights, setting up the terror infrastructure there.
Also presumed killed are Ali Hassan, Hussein Hassan and Majdi al0Musawi.
The IDF is on high alert for a Hezbollah attack and communities on the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee are on a virtual war-footing.
Unlike previous attacks in Syria on missiles and other weapons destined for Hezbollah, Sunday’s raid struck Hezbollah terrorists on the ground, hitting three vehicles traveling in the Golan Heights.
As usual, Hezbollah responded with threats, especially since Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last week warned that he will order an attack on Israel at some time or another.
Hezbollah has denied that its fighters are on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, but the aerial bombing on Sunday erased that lie. It said one of the dead was a leading commander, Mohammed Amed Issa, and it admitted that an Iranian also was killed.
The established presence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Israel’s border will make it even harder for President Barack Obama to take a dovish position on the Iranian nuclear threat without Congress, as well as Israel, doing everything possible to stop an appeasement policy. J. E. Dyer wrote in The Jewish Press here on Sunday:
Syria is now uniquely important to Iran’s nuclear aspirations because of the internal turmoil. There is no meaningful mechanism for enforcing “national” Syrian accountability to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. This is an ideal situation for Iran, and is only enhanced by the fact that the Syrian nuclear program has been on the alternate path to a plutonium bomb, as opposed to Iran’s well-advanced path to a uranium bomb.
A nuclear weapon aimed at Israel is Hezbollah and Iran’s ultimate revenge.
Meanwhile, no one is discounting Hezbollah threats, but it will not have an easy time to attack Israel, especially now that it is clear that Iran is operating across the Golan Heights border.
Hezbollah has enough rockets to cripple Israel, but the price of an attack could be suicidal for the terrorist army as well as Lebanon.
It will be a lot easier and less risky if Hezbollah takes revenge by attacking Jews outside Israel.
It remains to be seen if the death of Alberto Nisman, the state prosecutor in the Hezbollah-directed bombing of the Argentine Jewish Center bombing, was a suicide, as originally suggested, or was murder.
Was it a coincidence that he was shot dead hours after Israel killed six Hezbollah commanders?