Opinion | Morgan Liddick: ISIS hijacks refugee crisis to target the West
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength … from the start, our goal has been first to contain. and we have contained them.” — Barack Obama on ISIS, Friday, Nov. 13.
At least they’re not the “JV team” any more …
The above comment, bookended by the downing of a Russian jetliner with 224 deaths and the horrific events in Paris nine hours after our vigorously self-deluded president declared the Islamic State “contained” succinctly illustrates our problem. We have leadership that won’t.
It matters not if you believe, with Bernie Sanders, that ISIS springs from an unholy joining of George HW Bush and global warming, or if you agree with Hillary Clinton that it is a recrudescence of anti-Western, anti-modern currents in Islamic thinking present since the Sudanese Mahdists of the 1870-80s or the Nahda movement. What matters is that one treats it as a real threat, which our current president is loathe to do.
Take the refugee crisis caused by the horrific civil war in Syria. Refugees are nothing new, but this wave has access to Europe and the United States, and its demographics are troubling: of the 400,000 entering Europe by sea this year, the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees calculates that 72 percent are males. Assuming they reflect the distribution of similar origin populations, about half are males between 16 and 59, although anecdotal evidence indicates higher numbers.
The importance of this lies in a Syrian passport found at the site of one of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. It belonged to someone who entered Europe through Greece on Oct. 3. Others among the murderers were French nationals or residents, but all had ties to ISIS — at least four were in Syria and fought for the Islamic State. Arrests in Germany and Belgium of both Europeans and Syrians indicate more attacks were in the works.
ISIS’ use of refugees to infiltrate operatives — something Ben Carson suggested in the last Republican debate and for which he was condemned — should give pause to those who think this is a conflict, which will easily be resolved by a bombing campaign or a new round of drone strikes. It won’t be. ISIS exhibits ability to quickly shift tactics and to innovate, pushing the front lines of conflict into new areas: not only concert halls and restaurants, but into the world of response to humanitarian crises.
We are a primary target. So when the ISIS propaganda machine uses one of its Twitter accounts to tweet “This is a message for every American citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are,” we should take them at their word and start working with a purpose. Some things we might do won’t be popular, but they might be more prudent than doing nothing after multiple warnings that we are in the crosshairs.
Some steps mainly require the will to do them: securing the border against illegal entry and establishing an exit-visa system, allowing us to determine who comes in and who’s still here. Others are more difficult, requiring both care and community involvement: keeping a close eye on those like the Tsarnayev brothers, who came to a country they hated and whose only interest was killing its citizens. And those who encourage this sort of behavior, which is constitutionally risky, but again, doable: a religious leader who spouts “God d—n America” is probably protected, but one who continually says “Jihad is to (replace) un-Islamic systems with Islamic rule” and exhorts his followers to shed enough infidel blood to do that here and now may not be.
Then, there is force because, in the end, ISIS must be utterly destroyed. This requires effort and finesse: The Kurds must be armed, trained and given support to take back their land. Turkey must be reassured on three fronts: elimination of ISIS and its terror, the necessity of an armed Kurdistan in Iraq and the eventual departure of Syria’s Alawite regime. Russia and Iran must be thwarted in their attempts to establish an anti-western Middle Eastern bloc. And every stroke of Islamic State terror must meet a response that further makes its “Caliphate” a smoking ruin.
Until it is gone.
More immediately, we will certainly admit a larger number of Syrian refugees than the 1,500 currently projected. But if it’s 10,000, how will we adequately investigate their backgrounds in a country whose public records have largely been obliterated? How do we balance safety and humanitarianism? Easily enoug:. Admit Christians and Yazidis — period. For the rest, refugee status in protected enclaves in Syria — until they are able to return home. An example of the complex choices that lie ahead; complexities beyond the grasp of those sharing the delusions of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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