National Security Desk / June 16, 2016

CIA Chief: ISIL Has a Lot of Western Operatives

This just in…

Earlier this week, Barack Obama boasted of the success of his strategy against the Islamic State. Here’s a sampling: “We are making significant progress. … ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. … ISIL continues to lose key leaders. … As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its lifeblood. … ISIL’s ranks are shrinking as well. Their morale is sinking.”

Time for a reality check.

CIA Director John Brennan told some inconvenient truths to Congress Thursday, warning, “ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West.” He continued, “Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach. … In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.” Not only that, but Brennan cautioned that ISIL aims to smuggle in jihadis among refugees. Translation: Obama’s “strategy” is absolutely not working.

It’s no surprise that the Islamic State is in fact a real threat, contrary to what Obama regularly insists. Recall that he initially dismissed them as the “JV team” just after they’d retaken Fallujah, and that we had them “contained” just before last year’s Paris massacre. Obama has been asking for cooked intelligence, and Brennan aided in removing politically incorrect language from training material — at Obama’s direction. Five years ago, Brennan told American Muslims that he was striving to avoid “unnecessarily creating tensions” and valued the “promotion of an inclusive society.” Those are not bad things in and of themselves — most Muslims are peaceful people, especially in America, and we need their help to stop terrorist threats. Yet you might notice a pattern of appeasement with the Obama administration rather than appropriate countermeasures. That’s why Obama was more angry about having to use the words “radical Islam” than about the Orlando attack itself.

If Brennan’s actions are wanting, it’s because he works at the pleasure of this feckless commander in chief. At least Brennan’s consistent in acknowledging what’s happening. In February, he warned, “I’m expecting [ISIL] to try to put in place the operatives, the material or whatever else that they need to do, or to incite people to carry out these attacks.” He was right.

(Edited and updated.)

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