As we witness the brutalization of Iraq by the ISIS terror organization consider this. This Islamic march of death leads to Jerusalem.
The leading phenomenon that resulted from the call of the people in the Arab world against unsatisfactory leaders has been their cause being hijacked by insurgent jihadi terrorists. We saw that in Libya with the fall of Gadhafi. We saw it in Egypt where Mubarak was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, in this case an in-house jihadi movement. We see it in Syria where the people’s cry against Assad has led to an influx of Al-Qaida type groups vying for dominance. Now we witness the fall of Iraq by a vicious Islamic terror regime against which Al-Qaida pales into moderation.
The Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) is headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He transformed a few small terror cells into the most brutal and lethal terror group on earth. Mercy is not in this man’s vocabulary. Abu Bakr picked up the mantle after Abu Omar al Baghdadi was killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in 2010.
Al-Qaida in Iraq was under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who, in a 2005 letter to the head of Al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, put the aims of Al-Qaida in Iraq into four stages;
- Drive America out of Iraq.
- Create a Caliphate in Iraq.
- Use that as a base to attack other countries.
- Attack Israel.
When both al-Zarqawi and al-Baghdadi were killed by American forces it looked as if Al-Qaida was decimated in Iraq, but Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reformed a weakening terror group by leading it in battle, honing its fighters training and experience in Iraq and Syria, and by using political savvy by linking his growing group to local and tribal demands and interests. It became both a fighting force and social benefactor, winning local hearts and minds along a bloody path of victory. He absorbed the al-Nusra Front terror group in Syria into his ranks, demanding their obedience. Seeing the growing threat, Al-Qaida’s al-Zarqawi , from his hiding place somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, criticized ISIS for not concentrating on Iraq. In response, a confident ISIS hit back, accusing the Al-Qaida chief of “Sheikh Osama (bin Laden) gathered all the mujahedeen with one word, but you divided them and tore them apart.”
ISIS has attracted thousands of foreign fighters to its ranks, increasing its power and size. The shockwaves caused by its Iraqi Blitzkreig in seizing the towns of Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah was met by a mocking response by ISIS. “The battle is not yet raging, but it will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. Put on your belts and get ready” as they contemptuously called Iraqi leader, Nouri al-Maliki, an “underwear salesman.”
Clearly, the battle for Iraq is along sectarian lines with the Sunni ISIS, representing the majority of Iraqis, challenging the Shia al-Maliki rule. Clearly also was al-Maliki’s refusal to allow American forces to stay on in Iraq, but the ISIS victories were enhanced by the military vacuum in Iraq following the American pull-out, and this responsibility can be put at Obama’s White House door.
Obama’s self-proclaimed foreign policy “achievements” have been US troop withdrawals from Iraq, and “Al-Qaida has been decimated and is on the run!” These two boasts have now come back to haunt him. Al-Qaida has morphed into a bigger monster that is about to take over Iraq. And what was President Obama’s response? “We don’t have the resources. Let the local leaders deal with them.” This is short-sighted weakness, and dangerous. This was emphasized on Friday, 13 June, when Obama, confronted by the deteriorating situation in Iraq, decided to head off to California for a fund-raising event and some golf.
America spilled blood and treasure in Iraq including 4500 lives, $17 billion in military training to Iraqi forces, and $15 billion in military equipment. Now ISIS terrorists are seen driving around in American military Humvees.
The United States embassy in Baghdad is the largest global American embassy. It has 15,000 workers. It would be wrong to say that they did not pick up intelligence on the gathering Islamic terror storm. They did, and it fed it up the chain to the State Department and the White House, for months. Neither of those bodies acted on the intel. As one staffer told Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, “We couldn’t convince the President that this is serious!”
Now the Baghdad embassy could be under ISIS fire, making Benghazi look like child’s play. And attack on Americans will not end there.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was captured, imprisoned, and then released by America in Iraq, just as Obama recently released the five top Al-Qaida/Taliban prisoners at Gitmo. America, and others, will pay for both these foolish gestures. As Ken King, the Commander of the Bucco Camp that was ordered to release al-Baghdadi, related on the Fox News “Kelly Files” program, as a parting shot the ISIS leader glared at King and warned, “I’ll see you in New York!”
In a strange twist on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Republican lawmakers called for a partnership with Iran to stop ISIS from attacking Baghdad. Senator Lindsey Graham warned that ISIS “will eventually march on Jordan and Lebanon. They’re going to take the King of Jordan down.” The unspoken implication is that Israel will be next.
ISIS is now pumping Iraqi oil. It grabbed half a trillion dollars when it seized Iraq’s central bank in Mosul making it the richest terrorist organization in the world.
ISIS has been called too extreme for Al-Qaida with justification. Al-Baghdadi is being crowned “the next Bin Laden.”
ISIS is guilty of wholesale massacres in Syria, leaving the bodies to rot for all to see. It beheaded a top rival rebel commander, leaving his head in the middle of the market where everyone could see their handiwork. Amnesty International listed a few of their atrocities in their 18 page report “Rule of fear; ISIS abuses in detention is northern Syria.” They have conducted hundreds of executions, beheadings, even crucifixions in Mosul, Iraq. They destroy anything that is not Islamic, such as the Assyrian Church in Mosul. Hundreds have been slain for being “infidels.”
Once Islamic ISIS establishes its permanent presence in Iraq, as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, it will strengthen its grip on Syria. While looking down on Israel from the Golan Heights, it is likely to turn its attention to a militarily weak Lebanon, seeking to remove the Shiite Hezbollah from power, taking over its armoury of a hundred thousand rockets, and taking control of that country. From its northern hegemony in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria it will target Jordan with the intention of deposing, or killing, the Hashemite king, as a preliminary step to taking over his country. If America, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia do not immediately move to strengthen the Kingdom, King Abdullah will be exposed to mortal danger, granting ISIS control over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan in their march to a global Caliphate, and Stage 4 of their original plan.
Israel would be advised to keep a sharp eye on a future move by ISIS to attack or infiltrate Jordan via Syria. Who is to say that radical Palestinians and Islamists in Jordan will not open the gates of that country to ISIS, just as Syrians reached out to them at their cost?
When that scenario is achieved, Israel will be exposed to a threatening and powerful terror enemy stretching from Rosh HaNikra on the northern Mediterranean to Mount Hermon in the north east of Israel, sweeping through the Golan Heights and down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea and the Red Sea in the south.
In the turmoil that is the Middle East, where regimes are falling and nations are toppling, who is to say that such a nightmare scenario is not possible unless ISIS is stopped in its tracks now?
Barry Shaw is the special consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ www.israelnarrative.com