During his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama made another optimistic assessment of what he calls “the war on terror” when he spoke about the achievements in the global battle against Islamic State.
“Air strikes are hitting the Islamic State harder than ever,” the President claimed.
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“We’re taking out more of their fighters and leaders, their weapons, their oil tankers. Our special operations forces are on the ground because we’re going to hunt down these terrorists wherever they try to hide. In recent weeks, our strikes have taken out the ISIL finance chief, a terrorist leader in Somalia and the ISIL leader in Libya,” Obama added.
His assessment was the most optimistic since the ISIS-inspired San Bernadino shooting that claimed the lives of 14 American citizens, USA Today reported.
Obama mainly focused on Syria and apparently Iraq where the Islamic State is now struggling to keep control over the city of Ramadi east of Bagdad.
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The broader picture, however, is grimmer. In fact, the Islamic State is nowhere close to being defeated, continuing to expand in other countries in the Middle East, and as the latest ISIS attacks in Europe and the United States prove, is now able to attack Western societies.
As Western Journalism reported two weeks ago, the Islamic State is working to take over Libya and the Libyan ISIS branch is now in the possession of a flight simulator for the training of pilots of warplanes.
New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick confirmed our report last Thursday and said during a radio interview after he returned from Libya that he was “shocked and alarmed” at the growth of ISIS in Libya.
“I have to say I was personally shocked and alarmed at what I found on this last visit. When I had last been near Sirte (ISIS’ capital in Libya) earlier this year in February and March, it looked like a bunch of local militants with their own local agenda just hauled up the Islamic State flag to make themselves look tough. When I went back this time, not only did I find that they had vastly expanded their terrain … but the city of Sirte had become a kind of actively managed colony of the Islamic State leaders in Raqqa,” Kirkpatrick told his interviewer.
He added that ISIS’ military commanders are flown in from Iraq and Syria to lead operations in Libya and efforts to recruit foreign fighters in countries in the region. He said that the Islamic State now controls 150 miles of Libya’s coast.
This brings ISIS significantly closer to the West since the Italian island of Sicily is just 400 miles away. According to ISIS’ apocalyptic end-times vision, the final battle against the West will start in Italy and will end with Muslim domination over the whole world. The Islamic State already has sleeper cells in Italy and has threatened to attack the country on several occasions.
The chaos in Libya, a country where several militias are fighting against each other, and that is surrounded by other destabilized regimes that in some cases are embroiled in their own battles against ISIS or other Islamic groups, makes it virtually impossible to organize an effective Western intervention, Kirkpatrick concluded. His interviewer called Libya the West’s latest nightmare.
The Islamic State sees control over Libya and especially Sirte as no less important than control over Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. The leadership of ISIS is directly involved in governing the new province of the Caliphate in Libya and introduced a new slogan that indicates Libya’s importance for the Jihadist organization: “Sirte will be no less than Raqqa.”
The organization now has reportedly 5,000 fighters in Libya and on Saturday seized the ancient Roman town of Sabratha some 50 miles from the capital of Tripoli. The Libyan capital could be ISIS’ next target. Experts fear that the Islamic State will destroy the artifacts and ruins in Sabratha, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
In neighboring Egypt, ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sinai is already in control of the northern part of the Sinai desert and has recorded successes in the battle against the regime of President al-Sisi. The most recent success was the downing of a Russian civilian airplane in a desolate area in the northern Sinai Peninsula. This ISIS terror operation has caused a major blow to the vital tourist industry in the country and has further damaged Egypt’s economy.
Experts warn, however, that the organization will not stop there and is trying to expand to other parts of Egypt.
ISIS already has a foothold in the country’s western desert and has set its sights on Egypt’s most densely populated region, the Nile Delta, where support for Islamist groups has been on the rise since the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the last century. ISIS is using Facebook and other social media to reach out to disgruntled Muslim Brotherhood members and the poor masses in the Nile Delta.
The Islamic State’s influence is also growing in Israel.
The Israeli security forces have arrested several ISIS terror cells that were preparing attacks against targets in the Jewish state or were preparing to cross the Syrian border to join ISIS in Syria. In most cases, these cells were made up of Arab Israeli citizens who became affiliated with ISIS via social media or the now outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
The Islamic State’s influence among Palestinian Arabs is on the rise too. The current knife jihad by individual terrorists against Israeli citizens is not only inspired by the incitement by Palestinian media and the Palestinian Authority but by the atrocities of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, as well. Furthermore, the use of lone wolves attacks was first propagated by an ISIS ideologue by the name of Musab al-Suri who wrote a 1600-page manifesto that propagated ‘individual terrorism.’
These lone wolf attacks have made it increasingly difficult for Israeli security forces to get a grip on the situation, and it threatens the fabric of life in Israel.
So, is Islamic State contained as the Obama administration recently claimed? You can judge for yourself.