Report: 20,000 Foreign Fighters Descend on Middle East to Join ISIS

Posted: Feb 11, 2015 2:05 PM
Report: 20,000 Foreign Fighters Descend on Middle East to Join ISIS

An exclusive, harrowing report from the Associated Press:

Foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State or other extremist groups, including at least 3,400 from Western nations among 20,000 from around the world, U.S. intelligence officials say in an updated estimate of a top terrorism concern. Intelligence agencies now believe that as many as 150 Americans have tried and some have succeeded in reaching in the Syrian war zone, officials told the House Homeland Security Committee in testimony prepared for delivery on Wednesday. Some of those Americans were arrested en route, some died in the area and a small number are still fighting with extremists...Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is without precedent, far exceeding the rate of foreigners who went to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any other point in the past 20 years. U.S. officials fear that some of the foreign fighters will return undetected to their homes in Europe or the U.S. to mount terrorist attacks.

We're witnessing an unprecedented influx of jihadists into Syria and Iraq, as ISIS acts as a magnet for the world's most violence-minded Islamists.  Quite the JV squad. Thousands are arriving from Western countries, which isn't much of a surprise, given the biography of the terrorist army's most prominent spokesman.  We wrote about the intelligence community's fears in this vein last year, concerns that have been vindicated in horrifying fashion in recent months: The (not random) Paris attacks were carried out by radicals, at least one of whom was trained by Al Qaeda in Yemen.  Belgian authorities disrupted a killing spree planned by ex-ISIS fighters who'd returned to European soil.  Sources told CNN that various intelligence agencies believe as many as 20 of these sleeper cells have sprouted up across western Europe.  Britain's M15 chief is sounding the alarm of "mass casualty attacks" in the works by Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.  This cancer is also metastasizing in Australia, which has been hit with a string of small-scale attacks and threats, including this latest foiled plot:

Two men were charged on Wednesday with planning to launch an imminent terrorist attack in Australia, after police seized a homemade flag associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, a machete and a hunting knife in a counterterrorism raid. The men, aged 24 and 25, would have carried out the attack on Tuesday if they had not been arrested that day in the raid in the Sydney suburb of Fairfield, New South Wales state Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters. A video that was seized during the raid showed one of the men making threats, though Burn declined to detail exactly what was said. Australian Attorney General George Brandis later told the Senate that the video depicted one of the suspects kneeling in front of the Islamic State flag with the knife and machete while making a politically motivated statement and threatening to commit "violent acts" with those weapons.

Recent news reports suggest that while US-led airstrikes have helped make a dent in ISIS' leadership ranks and mitigate their progress in Iraq, the campaign hasn't halted the group's advance within Syria.  The Obama administration's premature, politically-motivated full withdrawal from Iraq (contrary to his own stated position as a candidate) created the vacuum ISIS has filled with bloodshed and unimaginable horror.  The White House is now rethinking the timing of Obama's planned total withdrawal from Afghanistan, where Taliban extremists (who may soon welcome several of their Obama-released commanders back into the fold) could retake the country upon our departure, creating another dangerous failed state controlled by medieval savages.  Speaking of which, Yemen's government has been overthrown by Iran-backed Shiite radicals, forcing Western diplomats to flee.  Yemen -- which President Obama touted as a beacon of his counter-terrorism policies' success just a few months ago -- is now officially a failed state:

The State Department confirmed late Tuesday that it has closed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff because of the political crisis and security concerns following the takeover of much of the country by Shiite rebels. The department announced it had suspended operations at the embassy in Sanaa and relocated its remaining diplomatic personnel "due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation." The embassy had been operating with only a skeleton staff for some weeks amid deteriorating conditions. Yemen has been in crisis for months, with Iran-linked Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the capital and then taking control. Earlier Tuesday, U.S. officials said the embassy closure would not affect counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida's Yemen branch.

Oh, right: Yemen is also home to what US officials describe as the most dangerous active branch of Al Qaeda.  The Obama administration recently released five Yemeni terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, sending them back to neighboring Oman. Another nation has imploded, with anti-American, anti-modernity forces sowing chaos and destruction. And another American embassy has been evacuated, which could well lead to scenes in Sanaa reminiscent of the images we saw out of Tripoli, Libya, where jihadists swam in our embassy swimming pool:

Bob Woodward said this morning that it's clear to anyone who's paying attention that the Obama administration lacks any coherent strategy to handle ISIS in particular. Au contraire, mon frere. They just announced a new strategy: "Strategic patience."  How's that working out? I'll leave you with another fresh AP story entitled, "Former Guantanamo detainees are back in the Middle East and returning to terrorist organizations." Indeed they are.

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