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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Getting a Proper Handle on the Islamic State

An article I recently did on 'Command Post,' the blog for RallyPoint, a social network for active duty, veterans, and supporters of our armed forces, on coming to grips with the Islamic State threat: 'Getting a handle on the Islamic State: To Know Your Enemy, You Must First Accurately Name Him.'

The U.S. Government was concerned about al-Qaeda before September 11, 2001. However, following that horrific event, that organization and its enigmatic leader was the focus of most of our efforts. We sent troops first into Afghanistan and subsequently the ill-fated foray into Iraq, and the main objective was to eliminate al-Qaeda.

Despite the killing of Osama bin Laden; al-Qaeda and its worldwide affiliates continue to be a security threat. However, in the past two years, they have been eclipsed by a force that unfortunately grew out of our operations in Iraq; the Islamic State. As it grew out of al-Qaeda’s franchise, the Islamic State originally was known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Meanwhile, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama-at al-Tawhidw’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda in response to the U.S. invasion in 2003. When Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike that same year, AQI was weakened and his successors rebranded the organization as al-Dawa al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham, or ISIS. The al-Sham in the title roughly corresponds to the Levant, which led some to call the organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. This rebranding reflected the broadening aims of the organization to create a new caliphate in the region, taking advantage of popular uprisings in Syria.  Read more . . .