More countries are turning to Israel for help in the fight against the global surge of Islamic terror.
For the first time in several years, when Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office this week, it won’t be to push the two-state solution or to project calm over the Iran nuclear deal. There’s a different, bigger concern on American and Western minds: what to do about Da’esh, an Arabic acronym that stands for al-Dula al-Islamia fi al-Araq wa-al-Sham, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS).
News reports this weekend suggest two disheartening things about the ability of the West to correctly appraise the capacity and the success of ISIS:
- US reports about the astonishing spread of ISIS in Iraq have been diminished or deleted, because they conflicted with the overall narrative of an independent Iraq that was ready to carry its own weight.
- The flood of millions of migrants into Europe has created an intelligence void, making it impossible for the West to assess the scope of the ISIS threat on European soil.
At this point, the only Western intelligence service which is in possession of vast, current, reliable information on ISIS is in Israel. And Israel is just as worried as anyone else.
“The ISIS activity is getting close to Israel,” a senior Israeli official told the Israeli NRG new site following the events of recent weeks. “The organization posted a video in Hebrew, then in the span of two weeks it brought down a plane in the Sinai, detonated suicide bombers in Beirut and carried out the attack in Paris. It shows its abilities and its aspirations.” In addition, the Israeli source cited the proliferation of ISIS cells which are now being discovered in Israel’s Arab sector, which indicate the strategic intent of the Islamic caliphate to harm Israel. “The situation is very dangerous,” said the senior official.
The official added that Israel maintains close cooperation with intelligence agencies in Europe to assist them in the early detection of foreign fighters — European passport holders who have participated in the fighting in Syria or Iraq and returned to the continent to establish terrorist cells. He noted, however, that the waves of refugees that flooded Europe through its open borders created enormous challenges to intelligence services.
He explained that when it was only a few hundreds of known foreign fighters who entered and left through recognized border crossings, it was possible to keep track of their movements and follow their activities. But the flood of millions of refugees who come in using unconventional and unsupervised means have created an intelligence void which intelligence agencies are struggling to fill. The second problem is that even when there is intelligence information, the freedom of movement between EU members and the vast distances make it very difficult to thwart an attack that is already underway.
“We learned this lesson on our own flesh in the second Intifada, that in order to stop an ongoing attack, the alert has to reach the soldier at the checkpoint,” the official told NRG. “Because if the perpetrator has passed the checkpoint, we would never get to him. The Europeans have no checkpoints and certainly no soldiers, so even when there is specific information it is not sufficient to stop the attack in time.”
Obama Administration Alters Reports on ISIS
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Saturday that “when Islamic State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.” And “in the revised documents, the Iraqi Army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply ‘redeployed.’”
The Pentagon inspector general is now conducting an inquiry into those editorial changes, which masked the magnitude of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and in beating back ISIS. Those supervisors were “particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted.”
So that, in a very real way, the combination of the US military desire to keep up the fiction of a well trained Iraqi army defending itself, together with the European fiction of maintaining open borders even as hordes of unknown people were coming in from the world’s most explosive region, may have led to the Paris attacks of November 13.
Frank Wuco, a retired naval intelligence officer and United States Central Command (CENTCOM) analyst, is highly critical of those editorial changes in intelligence reports. “You’re never ever to report information that supports a certain political thesis or political line. It defies the professional together,” he said in a radio interview this weekend.
US Air Force Col. Pat Ryder commented on the upcoming Congressional investigation of these apparent failures: “Gen. Austin and Central Command are taking these allegations very seriously. … Austin counts on the more than 1,200 exceptional intelligence professionals who support CENTCOM’s mission to provide him and the command with unvarnished intelligence and key insights into the myriad issues we face every day.”