US: We Are Not Alone in Defeating ISIS
Amid ISIS’s aim to spread terror around the world, the United States of America and its coalition of 66 partners are making tangible progress in defeating the extremist group.
In her remarks in Washington DC, US Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator Tina S. Kaidanow for Counterterrorism said the US and its allies are addressing the challenge head-on.
“For more than a year, America has led a coalition of 66 partners dedicated to degrading and defeating ISIS.” – Ambassador Kaidanow
The Coalition was able to cut off ISIS’s financing, disrupting their plots, and stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
In addition, with nearly 10,000 air strikes, the Coalition methodically taking their leadership off the battlefield, as well as going after their heavy weapons, oil tankers, training camps, bulk cash storage, and their infrastructure.
One piece of good news also, with the US and its partners working with local forces on the ground, they have taken back 20-25 percent of the populated territory ISIS once held in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq alone. ISIS has lost 40 percent of what it held at its peak in August 2014.
US And Allies Working Together
According to Ambassador Kaidanow, the attacks in Paris also triggered a united fight againts the terrorist group. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have ramped up their contributions to US military campaign, which is helping us accelerate our effort to defeat ISIS.
Also, Ambassador Kaidanow said Iraq has displayed tremendous perseverance and courage in fighting to dislodge ISIS and return the capital of Anbar province back to the Iraqi people.
In addition, the Kurdish forces in Iraq have driven ISIS from Sinjar; and Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces have pushed ISIS from key parts of northeastern Syria.
“These Coalition advances will make it harder for ISIS forces to find safe haven, regroup, and plan external attacks.” – Ambassador Kaidanow
Addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Threat
According to Ambassador Kaidanow, the United States now has information-sharing arrangements with over 49 international partners to assist efforts to identify, track, and deter the travel of suspected terrorists.
She cited that approximately 45 countries have passed or updated existing laws to more effectively identify and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).
Also, 35 countries have reported arresting FTFs, and 12 have successfully prosecuted at least one foreign terrorist fighter. To cite an example, Turkey for one has increased detentions, arrests, and prosecution of suspected FTFs and has increased its information sharing with international partners.
In addition, the United States is prepared to deploy teams of technical experts in order to help work with countries to counter terrorist travel.
These “Foreign Terrorist Fighter Surge Teams” are tasked to offer specific technical assistance to enhance partner capacity in the following areas: information sharing; risk-based, enhanced traveler screening; border and security management; utilizing financial intelligence, and law enforcement investigations.
Defeating ISIS Is a Priority
Ambassador Kaidanow reiterated that President Obama has made it clear that defeating ISIS is a priority.
In Obama’s State of the Union remarks on January 12, he stated, “Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al-Qa’ida and now ISIS pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage.”
ISIS Narrative Spreading Like Wildfire
According to Ambassador Kaidanow, the ISIS-aligned groups have established branches across the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, the Russian North Caucasus, and South Asia.
She highlighted that tThe relationship between these affiliates and “core ISIS” in Iraq and Syria, beyond ideological affinity and inspiration, is the subject of much discussion.
These branches are said to be made up of pre-existing terrorist networks, many of which have their own local goals.
In addition, the international terrorist threat picture has been transformed by ISIS’s territorial expansion, the promulgation of its so-called caliphate, and its campaign aimed at the West.
“Weak or failed governance has allowed ISIS to take territory in Syria and Iraq and continues to provide an enabling environment for ISIS and its affiliates, notably in the Sinai, Libya, and Yemen.” – Ambassador Kaidanow
ISIS Brings Terror In Iraq
The rebel fighters belong to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
The terroristic moves were not something new for ISIS – the group has been known for its insurgency operations in Nineveh and other provinces.
Mosul was the second city to be seized by ISIS militants in 2014. The Iraqi government lost control of Fallujah earlier in 2014.
With the raging aggression in Mosul, the International Organization for Migration estimated at that time, the number of people displaced by violence in Mosul and surrounding areas of Ninewa governorate reached 500,000.
Note that many in the west call this group ISIS, but that is a western name for them.
ISIS is composed largely of non-Syrian fighters and is believed to be made up of tens of thousands of fighters in Syria. The group gets its funding from oil revenue and wealthy donors in the Arab Gulf states.
In August 2014, Assyrians in the US were reporting that ISIS was killing their families and friends in Iraq. WGN TV in Chicago reported that “The largest group of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq lives in Chicago.”