U.S. special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State leader, who helped direct the group’s oil, gas and financial operations, during a raid in eastern Syria, the Pentagon and White House said on Saturday.
The White House said President Barack Obama ordered the raid that killed the man identified as Abu Sayyaf. U.S. officials said his wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured in the raid and was being held in Iraq.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement that U.S. personnel based out of Iraq conducted the operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria.
“During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces,” Meehan said.
“The president authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations,” Meehan said.
Meehan said the operation was conducted “with the full consent of Iraqi authorities” and “consistent with domestic and international law”.
So what if it wasn’t?
But spare me the “Obama ordered the raid” crap. Unless by “ordered” you mean “didn’t dither” until it was too late.
Still, what’s to quibble? Three Islamic radicals—Sayyaf, Morsi, and Tsarnaev—in one happy day!
The White House is dismissing as “baseless” a controversial report alleging President Barack Obama’s administration lied about the circumstances surrounding the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden.
“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security spokesman Ned Price said in a statement to reporters.
He took aim specifically at journalist Seymour Hersh’s assertion that the administration collaborated with Pakistani officials to kill the al Qaeda leader, saying that “the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
“As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials. The President decided early on not to inform any other government, including the Pakistani Government, which was not notified until after the raid had occurred,” Price said.
That’s it? That’s all you got? What a gyp! Who cares?
Hersh also reports on boasting from some SEALs that bin Laden wasn’t given a burial at sea that adhered to Islamic religious traditions as the administration had claimed — rather, his remains “were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.”
Now, that’s what I’m talking about! That’s good stuff.
We don’t mean to do no harm,
Look out for Osama’s arm!
Don’t get hurt, don’t get dead,
Watch out for bin Laden’s head!
Hersh also alleges Obama’s speech announcing the successful mission was “put together in a rush,” not vetted or cleared by national security officials and created “chaos in the weeks following.”
“This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following,” he said.
Should I wear a red tie or a blue one when I take my victory lap?
Will this be serialized in the New York Times and the WaPo, and on the Today Show and Frontline? Especially the part about “self-serving and inaccurate statements”?
Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker held hostage by al Qaeda, was accidentally killed in a U.S. counter-terrorism operation, along with an Italian hostage and another American who was an al Qaeda leader, the White House announced on Thursday. Officials also announced that a separate operation killed Adam Gadahn, another American who became a prominent al Qaeda member.
The White House said it was unaware the four were present at the sites targeted.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.
As long as Gadahn is still dead. Sorry about the others.
Jay Carney, of course, for getting out of the no-win job of trying to spin Obama’s serial failures. Now, poor Josh Earnest has to explain how on earth Yemen and Somalia are models of US counterterrorism strategy.
Yemen is a complete cluster, as everyone but the earnest Earnest concedes.
A siege that started with gunmen detonating a bomb and spraying bullets in a hotel in Somalia ended Saturday with at least 20 people dead, authorities said.
The attack, which lasted hours, began when gunmen raided the hotel in Mogadishu on Friday evening.
Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, was among those killed in the attack, the Somali government said.
Not so permanent, then, was he?
Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack as a “heinous and inhuman act” in an interview with state-run Radio Mogadishu during an official visit to Egypt.
In a statement, Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke said Al-Shabaab’s “talk of ‘legitimate targets’ and ‘justification'” exposes “the sham logic behind their lust for terror.”
“These terrorists contradict Islam and betray Somalia,” he said.
If you say so. I think they feel the same about you.
Al-Shabaab said it targeted the hotel because its guests are spies and government officials.
The terror group has been active in Somalia for years.
Initially, its goal was implementing a stricter form of Islamic law, or Sharia, by warring against the Somali government. It has since shifted its focus to launching terror attacks in Somalia and beyond.
“We reiterate again that there will be no safe haven for the crusaders and apostates in Somalia, and that our attacks on them will continue until the enemy of Allah (is) defeated and his law is implemented fully in Somalia,” the group said in a statement.
Maybe they could resolve their differences if they sat down together and chewed the fatwa.
Once hailed by President Barack Obama as a model for fighting extremism, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials.
Operations against militants have been scaled back dramatically amid the fall of the American-backed government and the evacuation of U.S. personnel. What had been consistent pressure on Yemen’s dangerous al-Qaida affiliate has been relieved, the officials say, and a safe haven exists for the development of an offshoot of the Islamic State group.
It’s a swift and striking transformation for an anti-terror campaign Obama heralded just six months ago as the template for efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama said. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
Maybe he’s failing so spectacularly because he insists on calling them ISIL. They answer to ISIS and just plain IS, too, sir.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: The case that we have made is that Yemen did serve as a sort of template for the kind of strategy that we would employ to mitigate the threat from extremists around the world.
Whatever, dude. Just as long as they’re killing each other over there and no one over here gets hurt. Good, clean Arab-on-Arab murderous fun is one thing; airplanes into buildings is quite another.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think the president is doing everything that he can in trying to defeat ISIS. But when I hear words like enduring conflict, it makes me very, very nervous. I think it opens a door wider than it should be. I think we’ve got to continue air strikes. I think we’ve got to use special operations forces when we can. But I do not want to see a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East where our troops die, come back with terrible illnesses and we end up spending trillions of dollars.
Once again, this war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort…
I want to make sure that our young men and women are not fighting a never-ending war in the region, not getting killed.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: The language is fuzzy, is it not?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Intentionally so. And the intent is —
ACOSTA: Intentionally so?
ACOSTA: It’s intentionally fuzzy?
EARNEST: Yes, Jim, because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief who needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this.
Remember when this administration touted a “time-limited, scope-limited military action”? Those were the days. Of course, that was in Libya, and that didn’t turn out so well.
BILL O’REILLY: 10-year-old girls are getting raped and killed, people are getting set on fire and beheaded. You can theorize all you want. We have a disagreement. You and the president believe that it’s working–.
AXELROD: What do you think the answer is though? Let’s make you president of the United States for a second, which your viewers may want.
O’REILLY: I put forth the answer, that you have to basically get a ground force. There’s 40,000 of these people. Go in and kill them. It should be an international force, but this should have been convened months ago.
AXELROD: The question is, what then? What happens then, Bill?
O’REILLY: They’re dead, and then we bury them.
AXELROD: Are we going to stay in perpetuity?
O’REILLY: No. We kill them, and then we leave. And if we have to go back we kill them, and then we leave.
AXELROD: And your assumption is — and that’s it, there’s no more anywhere else? This doesn’t inflame the situation–.
O’REILLY: Where they are, you seek and destroy.
AXELROD: If they don’t have recruits coming in, this doesn’t inflame — does it add to our security or does it detract from our security?
O’REILLY: You really want to use the word inflame after the Jordanian guy got set on fire? Is that the word you want to use? Come on.
You know what they say: opinions are like a**holes—everyone has one. Even a**holes.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose. Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are desperate and revolting attempts to strike fear in the hearts of people that it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction.
With vile groups like this, there is only one option. With our allies and partners we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.
Two questions come to mind: if we’re going to “destroy” them, who gives a fig that we’re also going to “degrade” them? Why does he keep repeating that? Bill O’Reilly may not be president, but his rhetoric of “kill them, bury them” (which is twice as much work as I’d invest) is a lot more presidential.
Second, if ISIS “can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction”, why do we need to fight them? By Obama’s reasoning, ISIS’ ideology will defeat its arms. If you’ll allow the analogy, Lord Voldemort, too, offered only “misery and death and destruction”, yet he was winning; he had no shortage of death-eaters at his beck and call. But for Harry Potter, his ideology would have won—twice.
ISIS is winning, but only because we—or another suitable force—are not fighting them. The Kurds are proof that if you shoot an ISIS maggot, he will die. Shoot more of them, with more guns. To complete the analogy above, instead of “the boy who lived” standing against “barbaric, desperate, revolting” terrorists, we have “the boy who smoked a lid”.
He was elected president in 2008 largely on a no-war platform. How fitting he has become an “endless wartime” president. An absence of strategy will do that.
Bipartisan criticism of President Barack Obama’s proposed authorization of force against ISIS mostly has to do with the use of U.S. troops and limits on the commander-in-chief. But one Republican lawmaker noticed something else that he calls quite troubling – omission of the word “Jews.”
Freshman Lee Zeldin is the only Republican Jewish member of Congress, and says it immediately leapt off the page that the President’s proposed resolution specifically singles out several ethnic groups threatened by ISIS: Iraqi Christians, Yezidis and Turkmens, but says nothing about Jews.
“I see an understanding, a recognition in the resolution with regards to ISIS attacks on Muslims, on Christians and others, and I didn’t see a reference to Jews,” Zeldin told CNN in an interview. “And one of the efforts I’ve been involved in is trying to raise awareness for the rising tide of anti-semitism.”
The New York Republican questioned whether the White House deliberately left out Jews as an ethnic group that ISIS has threatened.
Of course they did. As we reported yesterday, they refuse to acknowledge the murder of “folks” in a kosher deli by a bunch of “zealots” as anything but “random”. As I wrote, “Do they hate Israel (apparently) and Netanyahu (absolutely) so much that they would deny a narrative that makes Jews sympathetic?”
An official says Jordan has launched dozens of air strikes against the Islamic State group since the militants released a video last week showing the killing of a Jordanian fighter pilot.
Jordan has said it would retaliate harshly for the slaying of the pilot, who was burned to death in a cage.
Jordan has been a member of a U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State group since September. After the release of the video, it said it would intensify bombing raids.
Since Thursday, Jordan has carried out daily attacks. Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said Sunday that Jordan has launched dozens of airstrikes since the pilot’s death, without elaborating.
Presumably the late Jordanian pilot was captured by ISIS after being shot down. That would have made him a prisoner of war. There are rules about that, but the key word is “war”. Suppose he had burned to death in his jet, rather than in a cage: would Jordan be going so ape-s**t? Or suppose his savage execution had been reported, but not filmed? Haven’t we heard dozens of similar reports—about ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, whomever—but without the snuff film to post to YouTube?
Isn’t Jordan acting out of a surfeit of emotion, in this case, blind rage?
And what of the victims on the ground of these bombing runs? Are there no civilian casualties? ISIS is just standing in the open, saying come and get us? Where are the human rights organizations, the EU, the UN to condemn indiscriminate killing? Will there be an official inquiry into Jordanian war crimes—led by an anti-Jordanian zealot, who in the past has declared he hoped to see King Abdullah in the dock some day?
If you haven’t guessed (and of course you have), these are the trials to which Israel is put when exercising its right to self-defense. In place of Jordan, we could have highlighted Egypt and the Sinai—and we have—but you get the point. The world is morally bankrupt. It’s every country for itself. That’s when true allegiances are formed. Israel is probably more allied with its past mortal enemies—Jordan, Egypt, even Saudi Arabia—than it is with ObAmerica now.
And ObAmerica is friendlier to Iran than it is to Israel.
The recent surge of terror-related incidents in Europe is pushing demand for security. Europe’s schools, companies and religious institutions looking for trained, experienced high-end security personnel are turning to Israel to meet demands.
“Today the world is less innocent, people start to understand, the threats and the dangers, and start to demand security,” said Robby Said, general manager of security firm “Israel Special Forces”.
Said’s company deploys trained security personnel to half a dozen countries worldwide. Demand surged after the recent violent attacks in France.
Fancy that! I hope the first lesson the French learned was to show restraint.
But it doesn’t sound like it:
Industry experts say the threat of urban terror is new to Europe, but not Israel, which is why demand has grown by some 30 percent since January’s attacks in France.
“The first thought that I had is that if someone that is well trained, like an Israeli guy, or a personal security guard was there (in France), it would have been over very fast,” said Ron Elmaliach, chief security instructor and CEO of security firm Tactical Zone.
The words “intellectual” and “existentialism” are closely associated with the French. But if Sartre and Camus aren’t spinning in their graves at the thought of French hypocrisy and betrayal (also closely associated), I’ll eat my chapeau. Welcome to the real world, France. Quelle horreur!
He ventured to Syria to tell the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by war.
But in doing so, Kenji Goto suffered his own gruesome fate — apparently becoming the latest foreigner to be decapitated by ISIS.
A newly distributed video from ISIS appears to show the beheaded body of the Japanese journalist. It came one week after a video surfaced featuring Goto holding a photo of what appeared to be the corpse of his fellow Japanese captive, Haruna Yukawa.
Just like ISIS’ previous beheading videos, the 67-second footage released Saturday was issued by the terror group’s media wing, Al Furqan Media. The video cannot be authenticated by CNN.
And now, Japan finds itself more deeply embroiled in the global fight against ISIS.
“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to broadcaster NHK. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”
Unlike the United States, Britain and other allies, Japan is not involved in the military campaign against ISIS. But Japan has been providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East as ISIS continues its bloody quest to solidify an Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.
Let me try to untangle my feelings. I am sad, of course, at his death at the hands of the rabid dingos of ISIS. Especially when:
The 47-year-old Goto left Japan last fall, when his youngest daughter was 3 weeks old. His wife, Rinko, first heard from his captors December 2.
Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, said her son wanted to help create a world without wars.
“I’m shedding tears of sorrow, I just can’t think of any words to say,” she said, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. “But I don’t want this sorrow to create a chain of hatred.”
He was a husband, a father, and a son. And now he lies dead in the desert. Sad.
Mourning’s over; time to move on!
Mom doesn’t want hate? Really? What would she prefer? Lust? Sloth? I’d rather just forget Goto than be told I can’t hate his executioners. You go ahead and cry, but tears make it hard to aim the rifle scope. Or, in my case, hard to see the keyboard.
I love dogs, but I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a rabid one. When a mean dog has attacked my beloved Bloodthirsty Puppy, I have viciously kicked an animal I would have been happy to scratch behind the ears only seconds earlier. I love dogs, but I love justice and safety more.
I love humanity, too, or at least I try. Okay, I know I’m supposed to try. For while the creatures I love most in my life are people, so are the creatures I fear most. And hate most, though I try to keep hatred in check. Hatred is a great motivator, but can easily overwhelm more rational thought. Think of a food pyramid with hatred at the pointy apex. You need a little every day, but don’t overdo it.
When Jihadi John and the IS-a-Kills leave yet another husband/father/son a bloody, headless stump in the sand, tell me how else to feel. I’m past shock.
But then, Aggie and I were past shock before we started this blog nine years and two weeks ago (thanks for the cards—not). One of our early fans, Barb from Pittsburgh, raved about our posts and our points of view. But she had to bow out because the world we were revealing to her was too hard for her to take. She didn’t dispute what she wrote, she just couldn’t take it. Never heard from her since.
Who could be shocked anymore after 9/11? Or the Passover Massacre in Netanya? Or the 1994 bombing at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires? (Or the recent assassination of the prosecutor still looking into it?) Or the abduction of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram? Or Nidal Hassan’s “workplace violence” at Ft. Hood? Or the Luxor Massacre in 1997? Or the the butchery of the Munich Olympics?
Let’s stop there. The world was shocked by Munich; sportscasters were rendered speechless.
More than 40 years have passed, and we’re still “shocked”? I don’t understand. Truly, I don’t understand. Somebody explain it to me.
Goto wanted to “tell the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by war,” and became the protagonist in a tragic war story of his own. As he must have known it might. I won’t gainsay his decision—it was a brave one—even if I can’t wholly support it. He was a husband, father, and son who could have chosen to remain so, rather than put himself at risk of a merciless death in the desert. Soldiers don’t have the choice; he did.
The least we can do for him in return is to get over ourselves. Be shocked, but get past it. We’ve had 40 years. Let’s try something else.
Deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz, filling in for Earnest, would not call the Taliban a “terrorist group,” but instead an “armed insurgency.”
At today’s briefing Josh Earnest seemed to double down on the rhetoric by tip-toeing around the term ‘terrorist group.” Earnest used phrases like “this description that you have put forward” and “designating them in a way that you have described.”
“It is important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda,” Earnest told Karl. “The Taliban has resorted to terror tactics, but those terror tactics have principally been focused on Afghanistan.”
Earnest also called the Taliban a “dangerous organization.”
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack at a military base at Kabul’s international airport that killed three Americans and one Afghan Thursday.
A U.S. official confirmed that the shooting occurred at about 6:40 p.m. local time Thursday. There was no further comment because the incident was under investigation.
The Taliban’s claim of responsibility came in a message from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who identified the attacker as a man named Hessanulla from Laghman province, just east of Kabul.
Mujahid said that the militant had infiltrated the ranks of Afghanistan’s forces to stage the attack and wore an Afghan police uniform. An Afghan official with the country’s Defense Ministry said the attacker was in an Afghan army uniform. According to The Washington Post, Mujahid added in a tweet that the terrorist had “opened fire on invaders” before he was “martyred by return fire.” It was not immediately clear if the Afghan confirmed dead was the gunman.
Earnest later amended his remarks to add that the Taliban were “mean” and “big bullies”. He said they made him “so mad he could just spit”.
Actually, he did allow this:
Press Secretary Josh Earnest later acknowledged that the Treasury Department had put the Taliban on a terror list as far back as 2002.
Earnest also acknowledged that the Taliban “carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism, they do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda.” The Obama administration has repeatedly said the U.S. government does not negotiate with terrorists, despite trading five Taliban fighters held at Guantanamo for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
We don’t negotiate with “terrorists”, you understand, just with “armed insurgencies”, “dangerous organizations”, and “akin” groups. (That puts the Taliban on par with patriot and tea party organizations as far as the Regime is concerned.)
In case you forgot, “this description that you have put forward” gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden. But then, Osama wasn’t a terrorist either, but “a guy who lives in [Tora Bora], who’s a [Islamic holy man] who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.”
If you were to take the “torture” report seriously (I don’t — it’s a political document), you would have to say Barack Obama inhabits a very strange moral universe.
Here is a thought experiment I have been using for many years as we’ve debated this topic. It goes to what Obama says about the intolerably brutal nature of waterboarding, the most coercive of the enhanced techniques that were used.
If you were to take everyone in America who is serving a minor jail sentence of, say, 6 to 18 months, and you were to ask them whether they’d rather serve the rest of their time or be waterboarded in the manner practiced by the CIA post 9/11 (i.e., not in the manner practiced by the Japanese in World War II), how many would choose waterboarding? I am guessing, conservatively, that over 95 percent would choose waterboarding.
Now, if you take the same group of inmates and ask them whether they’d prefer to serve the remainder of their time or be subjected to Obama’s drone program (where we kill rather than capture terrorists, therefore get no intelligence from the people in the best position to provide actionable intelligence, and kill bystanders — including some children — in addition to the target), how many would choose the drone program? I am guessing that it would be . . . zero.
I believe President Obama is too smart not to grasp this obvious point.
Only because you are more charitable than I. Or maybe I more than you. You choose to believe Obama is intelligent but duplicitous. I choose to believe he is ignorant and stupid. And duplicitous. And I’m right.