July 13, 2016

ISIL on the Ropes?

The narrative on the terrorist group’s strength changes during this election year.

Is the Islamic State on the run? Recent news stories have pointed to the fact that ISIL has lost roughly 12% of its so called caliphate. In fact, since its high-water mark in Iraq and Syria, ISIL has lost 45% of the territory there that it once controlled. Even as ISIL has been losing territory, it has been increasing its global terrorism presence. Since January 2015 there have been over 70 major terror attacks worldwide which were directly linked to or inspired by ISIL, to which Istanbul, Brussels, Orlando and many other cities can attest.

In June of this year in statements before the Senate Intelligence Committee CIA Director John Brennan said, “The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group [ISIL] would have to suffer even heavier losses on territory, manpower, and money for its terrorism capacity to decline significantly.” He admitted that the U.S. effort against ISIL had not limited its “terrorism capability and global reach,” and it still was a “formidable adversary.” Brennan is no stranger to such warnings.

To better understand what maybe be the greater factor in all these recent stories of ISIL’s imminent demise, one need look back no further than to the election year of 2012. Repeatedly throughout that campaign, Barak Obama was telling the American people that “al-Qaida was on the run … [al-Qaida’s] remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us.” He continued to hold to this narrative even after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, blaming that episode on an angry mob incensed by some obscure internet video.

This time around the specter of terrorism need not rise to frighten anyone. Nothing to fear, for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is here. Wait, wasn’t she there for Benghazi? That our terrorist adversaries may be on the ropes is indeed good news, but beware jumping on the ISIL is “decimated” band wagon. We’ve seen that movie before.

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