SAN DIEGO: The U.S. Dept. of State reveals an alarming spread of terror groups – a wake-up call to members of Congress and their media mouthpieces. Americans look to elected leaders to be aware. To work together to diminish terrorism threats at home and abroad. For our votes, we expect transparency about what they are doing to help prevent attacks and prosecute bad actors. Congress creates woeful distractions. The peoples’ trust is dumped while taxpayer dollars funnel into ‘impeach Trump’ foxholes.
Notorious members of Congress mortar the President daily. They shell his supporters and try to overrun constitutional tenants. Wallowing in impeachment mud, they appear asleep to outside enemies wide awake and mobilizing.
We are a nation once savagely attacked by terror. The U.S. shares the same, if not more risks, as every other country. The State Department and Dept. of Defense most definitely know this. Yet, impeachment tormentors in Congress substitute terror-watch responsibility with selfish agendas and a 3-year-old past election tantrum.
Vigilance must never be abandoned.
To know about security and what the U.S. is doing, turn to the Whitehouse.
The Dept. of State’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2018” lists 67 terror groups in over 90 countries. An unguarded homeland is a target. Awareness is crucial, preparedness is safety for all Americans.
According to the Dept. of State report, the U.S. and its military partners have made massive strides to deter and defeat terrorism.
“Despite these successes, the terrorist landscape remained complex in 2018. Even as ISIS lost almost all its physical territory, the group proved its ability to adapt, especially through its efforts to inspire or direct followers online. Over the last year, ISIS’s global presence evolved with affiliates and networks conducting attacks in the Middle East, South and East Asia, and Africa.”
“Additionally, battle-hardened terrorists headed home from the war zone in Syria and Iraq or traveled to third countries, posing new dangers,” says the State Department.
ISIS is only one network out of dozens that are not necessarily symbiotic.
Terror groups are not necessarily interacting together for mutual rewards. In Africa alone, there are over 20 different terrorist organizations. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) navigates a tyranny of distance to help defeat it. The Dept. of Defense currently operates eleven unified combatant commands to control and disperse military forces in the global counterterrorism fight.
“The United States led by example in repatriating and prosecuting American foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), and we pressed other countries to do the same. Meanwhile, homegrown terrorists, inspired by ISIS ideology, planned and executed attacks against soft targets, including hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and other public spaces,” says the State Department.
The worst state sponsor of terrorism? Iran remains at the top.
According to the State Department,
Tehran has funded international terrorist groups such as Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It also has engaged in its own terrorist plotting around the world, particularly in Europe.
In 2018, officials in European countries thwarted an Iranian bomb plot in Paris, a planned assassination in Denmark, and other terrorist attacks. Tehran continued to allow an AQ facilitation network to operate in Iran, which sends fighters and money to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Syria, and it has extended sanctuary to AQ members residing in the country.
Iran builds its military strategy; adverse to the U.S. in the Middle East.
On November 19, 2019, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released an “Iran Military Power Report Statement” that examines the core capabilities of Iran’s military. Christian Saunders, the Senior Defense Intelligence Analyst for Iran, remarked,
“Throughout its 40-year history the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained opposed to the United States and our presence in the Middle East. Iran projects its military power through two different military institutions: the regular forces, or Artesh, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the IRGC,” says Saunders.
Iran uses deterrence and retaliation against attackers (conventional). Networks of Iranian militant partners and proxies enable Tehran to attain strategic depth, as well as advance its interests in a region (unconventional).
In September 2019, The Defense Post reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for attacks on Saudi oil installations that knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed credit for ten drones that targeted refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia.
But then, Saudi defense ministry spokesperson Turki al-Maliki displays the fragments of 18 drones and 7 cruise missiles at a press conference. Thus denying the capabilities of Iranian proxy terror groups to make a precision strike such as that.
U.S. Commander warns the Iranian government, surrogates, and proxies.
Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “all evidence points to Iran” regarding a May-June 2019 series of attacks on oil tankers. Selva claimed the attacks off Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and in the Gulf of Oman aimed at affecting the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran threatened to close the vital waterway in April.
Speaking at the at the Defense Writers Group in Washington in June, he said the U.S. messaged the Iranian regime and the IRGC Quds Force, saying,
” …engaging our forces, engaging our national interests in the region, is a dangerous thing to do.”
The U.S. is a champion of freedom of navigation around the globe.
Obstructionists in Congress need to switch gears to fight Terrorism
Able-bodied elected officials can do a lot to facilitate and support the State Department, the President, Dept. of Defense, and Dept. of Homeland Security. Plus take care of Americans.
Congress reviews and funds anti-terrorism programs. They address military, security gaps, approve Dept. of Defense and Homeland Security budgets. Distracted anti-Trump politicians need to recognize we must stay ahead with defense technology, expand our defense frontiers. In addition, fund updates and resupply of safety equipment, weaponry, aircraft, and ships.
Congress can help expand and better encrypt cyber intelligence networks, provide needed service member training, pay raises, and post-war care programs. Those in the fight demand crucial Congressional support and authorizations to defeat our lethal enemies. Congress needs to champion justice to hold those accountable for terror acts under strict law.
“Terrorists attack American targets more often than those of any other country…If the United States is to protect itself, if it is to remain a world leader, this nation must develop and continuously refine sound counterterrorism policies appropriate to the rapidly changing world around us,”
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism. 105th Congress 1997-1999.
Terrorism is expensive.
The Iran regime has spent nearly one billion dollars per year to support terrorist groups that serve as its proxies and expand its malign influence across the globe.
This fight drains our national defense coffers, leading to Congress to pay heed to the fluctuating need. The Stimson Study Group reports,
“Total counterterrorism-related spending from 2002-2017 came to $2.8 trillion. Because of shifts in definitions and inconsistencies in data, however, the study group’s estimate is likely imprecise, and could be either an overstatement or an understatement.”
The nature of terrorism makes spending hard to track.
ISIS did not die with its leader, al-Baghdadi.
Ambassador Nathan Sales, a leader in the U.S. State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, offers a red flag about ISIS in The Defense Post,
“The false caliphate is gone, but the global threat from ISIS remains,” Sales said.
Winds of terror can suddenly bear down, with no warning, to overrun urban populations and occupy austere territory.
West Africa and the Sahel are now on U.S. radar for ISIS expansion. In early 2020, the U.S. seeks to meet with the “Global Coalition Against ISIS” to focus on these areas of concern, a senior official said recently.
Given ISIS setbacks, al-Qaeda (AQ) seeks to re-establish its vanguard in the global jihadist movement.
“Despite our sustained efforts since September 11, 2001, and the group’s leadership losses, AQ’s regional affiliates continue to expand their ranks, plot, and carry out attacks, as well as raise funds and inspire new recruits through social media and virtual technologies,” warns the State Dept.
Time fogs the memory of vulnerability when al-Qaeda found entry into four U.S. commercial jets. Let’s not let it happen again, Congress. Tell us what you, individually, are doing.
Regionally focused terror groups complicate overall deterrence.
Global stability can only occur with regional stability. One attack, such as the one on Saudi oil refineries can cause transnational fallout. Resulting in a lot of suffering.
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
In South Asia, the Taliban and the Haqqani network (HQN) continued to launch lethal attacks throughout Afghanistan, including against U.S. military personnel. In one of its deadliest attacks to date, HQN – an affiliate of the Taliban – killed more than 100 people after detonating an explosives-laden ambulance in Kabul in January , a week after the Taliban conducted an attack on a Kabul hotel that killed 22.
The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan also continued to carry out attacks in 2018, including a March suicide bombing that targeted a checkpoint on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan.
Israel continued to face terrorist threats from Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza.
The ‘Whole of Government’ needed to counter attacks.
The White House released a National Strategy for Counterterrorism,
“The strategy is to dismantle terrorist organizations using a wide range of diplomatic, law enforcement, military, intelligence, financial, and other tools. It also calls on our foreign partners to assume a greater share of the burden. In 2018, the United States used this whole-of-government approach to mobilize international responses to counter the most dangerous transnational terrorist organizations,” says the Whitehouse.
Lack of focus due to partisan sparring is no excuse when American lives are at stake.
When Congress sets out to illegally oust the leader of the free world, they cheat us, and our allies and partners. The Nations, unable to fight the threats of terror alone, depend on the President’s foreign policy and military aid promises.
The President and the State Department have a big job to do to help solve crises around the world. So freedom may reign, economies may thrive, and citizens are safe. Every red-blooded patriot who cares about these things has the opportunity to fire non-achievers at the polls. Elected officials need to turn the impeachment heat off and give credence and devoted duty to real threats.
Featured Image: YEMEN, August 2019. Houthi rebel fighters ride on trucks mounted with weapons, during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen. The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthis, who drove out the internationally recognized government. Months later, in March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched its air campaign to prevent the rebels from overrunning the country's south. (Licensed) AP Photo/Hani Mohammed