Category Archives: Terrorism

Obama’s Iran Policy Is Lost at Sea – WSJ

Ah, but you don’t realize that Mr. Obama will ensure compliance…
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By Claudia Rosett
March 26, 2015 7:03 p.m. ET

American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.

Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).

But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.

The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”

Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Other activities—say, unloading oil en route to customers not on the waiver list—could potentially involve violations of sanctions and mean penalties for anyone who does business with them, such as being cut off from trade or financial transactions with the U.S.

Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article. Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.

Most of these phantom-flagged tankers are linked to Iran’s main tanker enterprise, NITC, formerly called the National Iranian Tanker Company. About seven or eight years ago, NITC tried to escape tightening U.S. sanctions by reflagging more than three dozen of its tankers to Cyprus and Malta. In 2012 the U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions on NITC, which forced the Iran-linked ships off EU registries.

The tankers quickly reflagged to the more obscure registries of Tanzania and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. They were also renamed: For instance, the Hirmand, flagged to Cyprus, became the Honesty, flagged to Tuvalu. They had new registered owners, too—an array of front companies in places ranging from the Seychelles to Tanzania to a post office box in Tuvalu.

In August 2012, Sens. Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk wrote a bipartisan letter to President Obama, urging him to blacklist the shipping registries of Tuvalu and Tanzania for “their participation in Iranian attempts to conceal the ownership and control of vessels owned or controlled by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).” Tuvalu swiftly deregistered the Iranian tankers. Although Tanzanian authorities promised to do the same, the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania protested that the host government seemed to be registering many of the Iranian tankers deflagged by Tuvalu.

At the end of 2012, Tanzanian authorities denied that any blacklisted Iranian ships were still registered under their flag. But dozens of Iranian ships were using their onboard Maritime Mobile Service Identity systems to signal as Tanzanian—which is how most of the Iranian tankers currently sailing under no identified flag are signaling to this day.

As for the blacklisted tankers that are registered under known flags, Lloyd’s reports that there are now nine flagged to Tanzania, 10 flagged to the landlocked nation of Mongolia, one registered to the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, two to Malta, and one tanker that is sailing under the Iranian flag.

The blacklisted tanker flagged to Iran is called the Amin 2. Treasury describes it as linked to the major Iranian shipping enterprise, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL)—which is under sanctions by the U.S. for “providing logistical services” to Iran’s military. Although Treasury’s public details for the Amin 2 are two years out of date, more-current details can be found on Lloyd’s and in a June 2014 report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Iran sanctions.

For almost three years, the Amin 2 has been shuttling between Iran and Syria via the Suez Canal. Syria is not on the U.S. list of countries with waivers to buy oil from Iran. Syria is under U.S. sanctions. But the Amin 2 has continued its activity. This is so even though Treasury says the ship is linked to IRISL—and Treasury has blacklisted an Egyptian company for acting as IRISL’s agent in Egypt in relation to weapons of mass destruction, or what Treasury calls “WMD-related actions.”

A Treasury press release about the Egyptian company, called Nefertiti, says it also provides services to Iran’s NITC. According to shipping data on Lloyd’s, since November the Amin 2 has made two round trips from Iran to Syria, calling most recently on March 5 at the Syrian port of Banias.

Under the emerging Iran nuclear deal, especially if sanctions are lifted, how exactly do the U.S. and its partners propose to keep a tighter leash on Iran’s nuclear program than they are now keeping on its shipping traffic?

Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/claudia-rosett-obamas-iran-policy-is-lost-at-sea-1427410998

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Senate Democrats and 9/11 Amnesia

Perhaps some “balance” would be helpful to the Democratic Report…  Here again, it would be welcome to hear some more ‘objective’ discussion about the matter.
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By Louis J. Freeh Dec. 10, 2014 8:00 p.m.

Seventy-three years ago this week, on a peaceful, sunny morning in Hawaii, a Japanese armada carried out a spectacular attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403, wounding 1,178 and damaging or destroying at least 20 ships. Washington immediately declared war and mobilized a peaceful nation. In another unfortunate Washington tendency, the government launched an investigation about who to blame for letting the devastating surprise attack happen. A hastily convened political tribunal found two senior military officers guilty of dereliction of duty, publicly humiliating them, as some political leaders sought to hold anyone but themselves accountable for the catastrophe.

With the Democratic members of the SenateIntelligence Committee this week releasing a report on their investigation holding the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency accountable for the alleged “torture” of suspected terrorists after 9/11, some lessons from the Pearl Harbor history should be kept in mind.

First, let’s remember the context of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when President George W. Bush and Congress put America on a war footing. While some critics in and out of government blamed the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to prevent the terrorist attack, the 9/11 Commission later concluded that part of the real reason the terrorists succeeded was Washington’s failure to put America on a war footing long before the attack. Sept. 11, 2001, was the final escalation of al Qaeda’s war-making after attacking the USS Cole in 2000 and U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.

The Intelligence Committee’s majority report fails to acknowledge the Pearl Harbor-esque state of emergency that followed the 9/11 attack. One week after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, President Bush signed into law a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

This joint congressional resolution, which has never been amended, was not a broad declaration of a “war on terror,” but rather a specific, targeted authorization to use force against the 9/11 terrorists and to prevent their future attacks.

Similarly, the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program, which included the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, was designed and implemented as the direct result of the president and Congress putting the country on a military, law-enforcement and intelligence war footing after 9/11. The program was carefully targeted and sought to apprehend the 9/11 terrorists and prevent them from striking again.

More important, the RDI program was not some rogue operation unilaterally launched by a Langley cabal—which is the impression that the Senate Intelligence Committee report tries to convey. Rather, the program was an initiative approved by the president, the national security adviser and the U.S. attorney general, backed by a legal opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which functions as the president’s outside counsel in such matters. President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their closest advisers at the time have confirmed that they were unified behind the RDI program; they should have been interviewed by the Democratic majority in preparing the report on the CIA interrogations.

The RDI program, including the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, was fully briefed to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees. The Senate committee’s new report does not present any evidence that would support the notion that the CIA program was carried out for years without the concurrence of the House or Senate intelligence committees, or that any of the members were shocked to learn of the program after the fact.

Facts matter, including the fact that the Senate committee’s Democratic majority failed to interview the three CIA directors and three deputy directors, or any other CIA employee for that matter, who had briefed them about the program and carried it out.

Such a glaring investigative lapse cannot be fairly explained by the Democratic majority’s defense that it could make such crucial findings solely on the “paper record,” without interviewing the critical players. Nor does the committee’s other explanation for avoiding interviews make sense: The Democratic senators say they didn’t want to interfere with the Justice Department’s criminal inquiry into the RDI program, but that investigation ended in 2012 and found no basis for prosecutions. And no wonder: These public servants at the CIA had dutifully carried out mandates from the president and Congress.

CIA leaders and briefers who regularly updated this program to the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership took what investigators call “copious, contemporaneous notes.” Without a doubt, the Senate Intelligence Committee and congressional staffers at these multiple briefings also took a lot of their own notes. Will the committee now declassify and release all such notes so that Americans will know exactly what the senators were told and the practices they approved?

Did the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program develop sufficient leads to connect the dots to Osama bin Laden ’s redoubt in Abbottabad, Pakistan, or serve to fulfill the executive and congressional mandate to prevent another 9/11? That is a fair operational and analytical question for the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Democratic majority to raise and argue. Likewise, it can and should be debated whether America should ever again use such methods to prevent terrorist attacks. What is decidedly unfair is to belatedly attack the brave and dedicated men and women and their leaders at the CIA who had the nation’s highest political and legal authorizations for this program.

Mr. Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge, is a partner and chairman emeritus with the law firm Pepper Hamilton and chairman of Freeh Group International Solutions.

Louis J. Freeh: Senate Democrats and 9/11 Amnesia – WSJ.

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Inside the Mind of the Western Jihadist

A bit long, but worth the time.
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By Sohrab Ahmari
London

On 9/11, Shiraz Maher thought to himself: “Yeah, you Americans deserve this. For meddling in the Arab world. For supporting Israel. You shall reap what you sow, and this is what you’ve sown for a long time.”

Within days the college student would quit alcohol, dump his girlfriend and join Hizbut Tahrir, a radical Islamist group he describes as the “political wing of the global jihad movement.” He quickly climbed the ranks before eventually leaving the U.K. Islamist movement and rededicating his life to countering it.

Mr. Maher is today a senior fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, King’s College London, where he researches Europe’s homegrown Islamist movement and profiles the droves of young Britons who are decamping for Syria and Iraq to wage jihad with ISIS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

These include Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a wannabe rapper from a posh west-London neighborhood who recently posted a Twitter selfie of himself holding a severed head. “Chillin’ with my homie,” read the caption, “or what’s left of him.” Abdel Bary is also suspected to be the terrorist who addresses the camera before beheading American journalist James Foley in a widely circulated online video, though Mr. Maher thinks the masked figure is a different British jihadist.

Abdel Bary is one of 500 to 600 British citizens who have joined the Islamic State, and Mr. Maher’s center estimates about 2,200 foreign fighters from Europe are operating in the region. “Globally we believe the number to be somewhere in excess of 12,000. We’ve counted 74 different nationalities that are represented on the ground.”

Many fighters have European passports, which means they can travel around the Continent and even enter the U.S. with relative ease. Two-hundred-fifty fighters have already returned to the U.K., according to Mr. Maher.

Not all of the foreigners in the region initially intended to join ISIS, which is only one of several groups fighting Bashar Assad’s regime. Yet in recent months the Islamic State has emerged as the most successful and prestigious outfit, while recruits to the other groups have slowed to a trickle.

ISIS proved appealing in part because it was the easiest group to join. Says Mr. Maher: “We know of a lot of people including Britons who’ve tried to join Jabhat al Nusra”—al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise—”who were turned away because Jabhat felt it didn’t know them and so couldn’t trust them. And then they went to ISIS, and ISIS welcomed them with open arms.”

Battlefield prowess was another advantage. “ISIS has been particularly successful at bringing in fighters from Bosnia and Chechnya,” Mr. Maher says. “The greatest human asset that an army can have is fighters with combat experience. And the Bosnians and Chechnyans of course have huge experience, a great deal of sophistication and knowledge about how to fight guerrilla warfare.”

Cultivating a brand helped, too. “ISIS developed a strong social-media presence,” Mr. Maher says, while “other organizations didn’t have the same glamour. And we’re dealing with young men. They want to be with a strong horse, with a winning team. At the moment, ISIS has momentum.”

Finally, the Islamic State has a veneer of authenticity. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, presides over “land that these guys regard as pure and holy,” Mr. Maher says. “There’s a lot of stuff in normative Islamic theology which talks about bilad al-Sham, the land of Syria. The Hadiths, the prophetic tradition, say that when God sends angels, they rest in Syria after their journey.”

Reverence for this angelic pit stop hasn’t stopped the Islamic State from turning it into hell on earth. “In the last 10 months we’ve seen British fighters serve as suicide bombers,” Mr. Maher says. “We’ve documented British fighters executing prisoners of war. And we have documentary evidence of British fighters torturing people in their care.”

The typical British Islamic State terrorist is male, in his 20s and from a South Asian background. “He usually has some university education and a history of Muslim activism,” Mr. Maher adds. The fighters broadly fall into three personality types.

The first is the adventure-seeker. “They’re in jihadist summer school or camp,” Mr. Maher says. “I’m with my buddies, we’re hanging out and we have these great weapons—AK-47s, RPGs.” The adventure-seekers are often involved with U.K. gangs or drugs, and they might consult “Islam for Dummies” before traveling to Syria. They publish photos of themselves eating fast food, swimming and playing soccer in al-Sham. The message they telegraph to friends back home is: “We live better lives here than we were in London—come.”

Then there are the “really nasty guys,” Mr. Maher says, “the ones who will show off a severed head on Facebook and say, ‘Yeah, I just beheaded this son of a bitch.'” These guys, Mr. Maher adds, “should definitely never come back.'”

The third type are “what you might call idealistic or humanitarian jihadists for want of a better phrase,” Mr. Maher says. “They would say, ‘Look, haven’t you seen what’s happened to the women and children of Aleppo?’ ” Over time, they become hardened and no longer mention the innocents they came to rescue. “The land belongs to Allah,” they now say. “We’re here to impose Islam.”

Mr. Maher himself fits the third type most closely, and had he been born a decade later he might not be sitting across from me at a restaurant eating steak tartare and sipping Guinness. “If I were younger and instead of 9/11 it was the Syrian conflict,” he says, “there’s a very, very good chance I would go. Instead of studying them, I would be the one being studied.”

Shiraz Maher was born in 1981 in Birmingham to British-Pakistani parents. When he was still an infant, his father’s accountancy practice took the family to Saudi Arabia. “I never had a concern about what kind of society Saudi Arabia was,” he says. “We lived in a Western compound, with everything you could want: tennis courts, swimming pools, cricket, basketball, bike races, all gender-mixed.”

Yet the political atmosphere in Saudi Arabia became more tense after the first Gulf War. When he was 11, he owned a Daffy Duck T-shirt with the slogan “I Support Operation Desert Storm.” One day an ordinary Saudi asked why he’d wear such a shirt. “I said, ‘Why not? Saddam’s a terrible man.’ The man said: ‘No. This is an American conspiracy. These people use us as an excuse to establish bases on holy soil.’ ”

In 1995, at age 14, Mr. Maher moved back to the U.K., and five years later he enrolled at Leeds University, in northern England. Then came 9/11, an event that he says “activated” latent anti-American ideas he’d imbibed while growing up in Saudi Arabia. By the time the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, he had recovered his Muslim faith, changed apartments so he could live across the street from the local mosque, and joined Hizbut Tahrir.

Hizbut Tahrir—Arabic for “Party of Liberation”—campaigns for a global Islamic state but advocates a broad, political path to the caliphate. “It’s not anti-violence per se,” Mr. Maher says. “It applauds suicide bombers but believes suicide bombing is not a long-term solution.”

Mr. Maher says the U.K. government for years looked the other way as a generation of British Muslims was radicalized. “In the late 1980s, early ’90s,” he says, “this country opened its doors to radical Islamist preachers from around the world who began to preach a very hard-line, totalitarian message about what Islam should look like. That message has always been a minority view,” he says, but it is persistent.

Hizbut Tahrir, for example, organized a 1994 conference in London about the need to establish a caliphate. The event drew Islamists from Sudan to Pakistan, yet Mr. Maher says U.K. law enforcers took a blasé attitude: “These exotic guys with beards are talking about a new state. OK.” The result was that the “idea of having an Islamic state had been normalized within the Muslim discourse,” Mr. Maher says, and young Muslims were taught to think of their British identity as something “filthy.”

Government missteps continued even after 9/11. The 2003 “Prevent” counterterror strategy, as Mr. Maher describes it, involved “empowering fairly radical people, like Abu Hamza, who were saying to people: ‘Don’t blow anything up here, go abroad and do it. That’s fine.’ ” Abu Hamza, an Egyptian imam who for years led London’s notorious Finsbury Park Mosque, currently awaits sentencing in the U.S. on terrorism charges.

Today, Mr. Maher says, London is much more aware of the need for the “ideology of Islamism to be tackled.” In 2005 when he began to have doubts about Hizbut Tahrir, Mr. Maher was alone and without support. He’d risen from a cell leader to a regional director and even been invited to join the group’s U.K. executive committee. Yet during graduate study at Cambridge, Mr. Maher encountered more pluralistic strands of Islam and came to conclude that Hizbut Tahrir’s radical ideology “will lead to terrorism. It’s also basically rubbish.”

He left the group on July 7, 2005—the day the London Underground bombings killed 52 people and maimed more than 700. The bombers were from Leeds. They weren’t Hizbut Tahrir members but belonged to the same radical milieu. “Were we, was I, part of the flame that warmed up the anger?” he asks. “Absolutely. I don’t go around feeling guilty, but we contributed to the momentum of hatred and anger.”

Does his own journey from Islamist to anti-Islamist give Mr. Maher hope? On a positive note, secular dissidents, moderates and Muslim liberals have found a voice in the West and in the Middle East. Thanks in part to his own efforts, the British branch of Hizbut Tahrir has been decimated. The group tells its members that the “party is your umbilical cord to Islam,” Mr. Maher says, and young Muslims having second thoughts need confidence: “Tell them: ‘You’ve been in a cult. There’s a world outside.’ ” Hizbut Tahrir rallies used to draw 20,000 supporters. Today “they struggle to get 1,000.”

But those gains are overshadowed by breathtaking jihadist advances in Syria and Iraq. Save for a small minority of idealistic Islamic State members who question the group’s brutality and long to come home, Mr. Maher says that “most of these guys have to be fought. Militarily we have to confront them, and when I say ‘we’ I mean the United States and Britain.”

It didn’t have to be this way. “Bashar Assad is one monster,” he says. “Had we gone in and taken him out, there would have been other monsters but not at this level. The jihadists needed this crisis. They needed the power vacuum.

“Did bin Laden win? Yes. He did not want there to be a strong hand in the region for the world’s greatest and most powerful force for good—the United States. And voluntarily we chose to disengage, and watched as these radical millenarians came in and took over.” He knocks on our table for emphasis: “This is a disgrace and a humiliation.”

Mr. Ahmari is a Journal editorial-page writer based in London.

Sohrab Ahmari: Inside the Mind of the Western Jihadist – WSJ.

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Noonan: A New Kind of Terrorist Threat

Did you notice there were NO “declarations of dismay” when Obama authorized air strikes against ISIS? Have we got “The Left’s Attention, finally???” Let’s be done with all this talk of “let’s just co-exist in a happy world”. How many “religion haters” “Jewish haters”, “Christian haters” are lining up to join ISIS and their view of “co-exist”??
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The question “What should we do about ISIS?” is not the same as the question “Do we want to go back to Iraq?” One is about facing up to an extreme and immediate challenge, which we have to do. The other is about returning to an old experience, which almost no one wants to do.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is not just a grandiose army of freelancers and fanatics. They’re something different in kind from the al Qaeda of old—more vicious, more organized and professional. George Packer in the New Yorker estimates ISIS controls 35,000 square miles of land. “The self-proclaimed Caliphate stretches from the newly conquered towns along the Syrian-Turkish border,” through northern Syria, across the Iraqi border, “down to the farming towns south of Baghdad.” ISIS funds its operations not like primitives but sophisticates: They sell oil and electricity and empty banks in the areas they seize. (A CNN report put their haul from the oil fields alone at $2 million a day.) They also make money from kidnappings and what they call taxation. Mr. Packer quotes a former Pentagon official: “ISIS now controls a volume of resources and territory unmatched in the history of extremist organizations.”

They are something new and different in the Mideast drama. They ably take left-behind American and Russian armored vehicles and weapons. They are savage: Al Qaeda once threw them out for brutality and bloodlust. “Extreme Violence Lies in Isis DNA,” is how the Financial Times pithily put it. They have a talent for war and draw fighters from throughout the world, particularly young men from the culturally fractured and materialist West. Those young men, desperate to belong to something, to be among men on a mission, to believe in something bigger and higher than their sad selves, are ripe for jihadist recruitment. Many hundreds of ISIS fighters are said to hold U.S., British or German passports, which will make it easier for ISIS to come here, as they have promised to do. ISIS has a social-media presence that would be the envy of Josef Goebbels : They taunt the West, promise mayhem, post pictures of their murdered victims and videos of beheadings. One of their Twitter TWTR +1.93% hashtags: #CalamityWillBefallUS. They are driven not solely by hatred for America and the West but by a desire to create their own trans-Arab state. The caliphate will be fundamentalist and totalitarian, Shariah with all its brute simplicities.

America this week learned of their beheading an American journalist, James Foley. Before that there were beheadings of Christians and other infidels. ISIS is in fact helping to depopulate the Mideast of Christians, a fact so shocking people still can’t bring themselves to believe it.

The U.S. cannot be certain of ISIS’ immediate strategic plans. Perhaps they will concentrate on holding the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It is possible they will widen their war. In an audio statement in January the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, referred to America while speaking to ISIS fighters. “Soon we’ll be in direct confrontation,” he said. “So watch out for us, for we are with you, watching.” Those associated with ISIS have promised to raise their black flag over the White House.

Writers and politicians have for years made points by quoting lines from “The Godfather.” ISIS keeps making me think of a line from “Goodfellas.” A gambler is beaten to a pulp and realizes the mob is going to kill him if he doesn’t come up with the money. He calls a relative and says through broken teeth: “These guys mean business.” ISIS means business.

America is said to be war-weary. I think it’s more like war-leery, or war-wary, which a great nation should be, especially after two wars, both bungled in their execution and their ending.

But now, after months of graphic violence and crude propaganda, and after Foley’s beheading, the nature, threat and intentions of ISIS have become clear. This week the president sent bombers. There were no demonstrations in protest. Even the pope didn’t protest. To stop violent aggressors, Francis noted when asked about the U.S. bombings, is “licit.” He did not explicitly support bombing, but noted the stopping of groups such as ISIS was justifiable.

The good thing, the comfort, is that as each day passes the civilized world, as we used to say, gets a closer, clearer look at who these people are.

One of my fears in the early years of the Iraq war was that if it proved to be the wrong war—if no weapons of mass destruction were found, if sustained unrest showed Saddam Hussein was the garbage-pail lid who kept the garbage of his nation from spilling out—it would mean that at some time in the future when America really needed to fight and had to fight, she would not. I feared the war’s supporters would be seen to have cried wolf, and someday there would be a wolf and no one would listen. Now there is a wolf.

We tell ourselves that we do not want to go back to Iraq, and we don’t—all the polls show this. But facing up to what ISIS is and what it plans to do is not returning to Iraq in that we are not talking about nation-building, quixotic exercises in democracy-bringing, or underwriting governments ruled by incompetents. We are talking about other things.

The president was rhetorically serious this week, after too long dismissing ISIS as the “junior varsity.” This time he called them a “cancer” that must be cut out. He said they have “rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. . . . They have murdered Muslims—both Sunni and Shia—by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion.” All this is true.

Then, alas, looking like an unserious man, like one who doesn’t know the import even of his own words, he went golfing. It is obvious he doesn’t care what people think anymore, but soon he will return to Washington where there is much he can do.

Such as:

Continue bombing ISIS where potentially efficacious, as heavily and for as long as needed. This week’s bombing forced them to give up the dam they’d seized at Mosul, an act that left ISIS looking, for the first time in its history, reduced and stoppable. Go to Congress for authorization of force, showing the world we have gained at least some semblance of unity. Give the Kurds, our actual friends, every kind of help they need, from military to material. Use the threat of ISIS to forge new bonds with allies and possible allies, such as the leaders of nearby countries that are immediately threatened. Go to the U.N., pound the table, ask for the world’s help. Let them humiliate themselves by doing nothing if that’s what they choose. At least it will be clarifying.

And be prepared, to the degree possible, for a hit or hits on American soil or that of our long-standing allies. ISIS says it’s coming. So far they’ve done pretty much everything they said they’d do.

A New Kind of Terrorist Threat – WSJ.

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