U.S. losing ground against Islamic extremism, says former CENTCOM commander

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Despite the insistence of President Obama and his senior advisors that the Islamic State and the violent jihadist movement worldwide is losing ground, the former head of U.S. Central Commander says the exact opposite is true.

“The U.S. has lost ground in the fight against Islamic extremism, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said in a recent interview,” according to an article in The Hill, a Washington based newspaper that covers Congressional affairs.

The following are excerpts from this important story:

  • “Unfortunately, we have lost ground over time,” said retired Gen. John P. Abizaid, former commander of U.S. Central Command in an interview published in this month’s West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s magazine.
  • “The scope of the ideological movement, the geographic dispersion of Islamic extremism, the number of terror attacks, the number of people swearing allegiance, and the ground they hold have all increased,” said Abizaid.
  • “Groups like the Islamic State have now taken on state-like forms and features that are unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. So on balance we are in a worse position strategically with regard to the growth of international terrorism, Islamic terrorism in particular, than we were after September 2001,” he said.
  • The dire assessment highlights the difficulty the Obama administration faces as it tries to accelerate the campaign against ISIS in its remaining 10 months in office….
  • The administration says the primary focus will remain on Iraq and Syria, but that it will also strike ISIS in other places, such as Afghanistan and Libya, if an opportunity arises.
  • However, with only 10 months remaining in the administration, there is little time for doing significantly more, and the administration has sidestepped questions into whether there will be a more robust effort to go after ISIS in Libya.
  • “I’m not going to look ahead into the future. We’re going to continue to respond to the ISIL threat as it develops. We are carrying out a significant campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and we are prepared — as we have demonstrated in the last 24 hours — to strike ISIL in other parts of the world, as they pose a threat,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Friday, using another acronym for ISIS.
  • Abizaid also said the U.S. was making a mistake by not acknowledging that modern-day borders of the Middle East are falling apart.
  • The U.S. is aiming for political solutions in Iraq and Syria that would keep the countries together, instead of broken up along sectarian lines.
  • “I do not think you solve the problem by trying to reinforce the status quo that existed before September 11, 2001,” he said.
  • “I think the international community and the leaders in the region have got to decide how best to reshape the Middle East and redraw the boundaries to establish stability and a more peaceful structure,” he said.
  • “Nations that are trying to put the status quo back on the map are only going to prolong the conflict and stoke greater violence,” he added. “I do not believe we are capable of putting this all back together again. That strategy is bound to fail.”
  • One thing the U.S. can do, he recommended, is to put more effort into organizing and leading the international community to do more to take on ISIS.
  • “I’m talking about a raiding strategy where we destroy capability over time in a joint force, which is an integrated international air, ground, and naval effort,” he said.
  • “Without American leadership, we’re not going to move in a direction that’s going to produce effective results,” he said.
  • “That doesn’t mean we only employ American assets, but it does mean there has to be American commitment to lead the effort and guarantee our partners that there will be some long lasting measures that take place,” he said.

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President Obama will meet with Jordan’s King today. Do Obama & the leading presidential candidates truly understand the magnitude of the threat ISIS poses to Jordan?

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On Wednesday, President Obama is scheduled to meet at the White House with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Let’s hope things go better than last month.

In January, Mr. Obama snubbed the Hashemite monarch on his visit to Washington. The White House initially said the President was too busy to meet with the King. In the end, the President spent a mere five minutes with His Majesty at Andrews Air Force Base before departing on a political trip.

Administration officials insisted that no slight was intended. It was just a busy week. But the damage had already been done. The President had made time to be interviewed by NBC’s Matt Lauer and welcome the TODAY Show on a tour of the White House. But he had refused to a serious, substantive meeting with the West’s most important and faithful Sunni Arab ally a priority, and America’s allies and enemies were watching.

Perhaps paying the closest attention was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. For even as Baghdadi and his fellow jihadists seek to topple the governments of Iraq and Syria and expand his emerging caliphate, make no mistake: the leaders of the Islamic State are gunning for King Abdullah II and determined to seize the land of Jordan for themselves. And now we know from CIA Director Brennan that ISIS is testing chemical weapons on the battlefield.

As readers of The Third Target and The First Hostage know, these are some of the central premises of my new thriller series. Let us be faithful in praying such scenarios never come to pass.

The critical question now is this: How seriously does President Obama take the U.S.-Jordanian alliance and what will he do tangibly to strengthen it at this critical juncture as the King and his people face an existential threat from the Islamic State?

Do the leading presidential candidates in both parties truly understand the threat to Jordan and the importance of strengthening our alliance with the King?

Let us hope that the American leader listens carefully to the King’s assessment of the threats he’s facing, and is ready to increase aid and military cooperation with the Hashemite Kingdom immediately.

Jordan is our most faithful Arab Sunni ally in the fight against the Islamic State. The assassination of the King, and/or a major ISIS attack on Jordan or a coup d’état — God forbid — would be catastrophic. It must be prevented at all costs.

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“The First Hostage” hits #1 on best-seller list one day after CIA director warns ISIS using chemical weapons.

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On the day after CIA Director John Brennan told the CBS News program “60 Minutes” that the Islamic State is using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, a novel about ISIS using chemical weapons against its enemies in the Middle East has hit #1 on a national best-seller list.

I’m pleased to report that The First Hostage has just become the nation’s #1 best-selling novel in the North American Christian book market, according to the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association. It is also the #7 of all Christian best-sellers, both fiction and non-fiction, this month.

In January, The First Hostage spent four weeks on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction best-sellers list. It also hit the USA Today list, though it did not hit the New York Times list.

This is the second in a series of thrillers about J.B. Collins, a fictional foreign correspondent tracking the threat posed by ISIS to the U.S., Israel, Jordan, and a group of other Mideast countries. The previous novel, The Third Target, was released in January 2015.

They are both the first — and, thus far, the only — novels in the world about the threat of the Islamic State.

On behalf of my wife and me — and the entire Tyndale House Publishing team — please let me say thank you so much for your enthusiastic support of this thriller, and The Third Target before it, which hit all the general market lists when it released last year and was also a #1 best-seller in the Christian market. We deeply appreciate how so many of you are blogging and Tweeting and writing on Facebook about both novels, and writing so many positive reviews on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and other book sites.

Since many of you keep asking, please rest assured that I am hard at work right now on the third novel in this J.B. Collins series. We expect this next one to release in January 2017 and I’ll certainly keep you posted on my progress along the way.

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CIA Director warns ISIS using chemical weapons & poses “a threat that keeps him up at night.” Here’s the latest.

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In a chilling admission that the world’s most dangerous terrorists now control some of the world’s most dangerous weapons, CIA Director John Brennan went on the record this week to warn that the leaders of the Islamic State are actively engaged in producing chemical weapons and using them on the battlefield.

Brennan told CBS News that the use of WMD by the terror state is limited for now. But he said ISIS appears to be trying to figure out how to use poison gas on a much wider scale.

It is, CBS reports, “a threat that keeps him up at night.”

This is not the first time we’ve seen open source news reports about ISIS’ chemical weapons capabilities (see here, here and here, as examples.) But Brennan is the highest-ranking U.S. intelligence official to confirm the Islamic State’s WMD capabilities.

The determination ISIS has to develop and deploy weapons that can kill on a mass scale is consistent with the ISIS’s apocalyptic beliefs and objectives, as I’ve been warning for some time. It’s also the heart of the plot lines in both of my most recent novels, The Third Target and The First Hostage in which a New York Times reporter discovers that ISIS has captured a cache of chemical weapons in Syria and is planning a genocidal attack soon to advance their End Times beliefs and hasten the coming of the Mahdi and a global Caliphate.

Nothing in the CBS report suggest Brennan is focused on the apocalyptic views of ISIS leaders. Perhaps the full interview will shed more light on the CIA’s assessment of Apocalyptic Islam and how it’s driving the actions of the Islamic State. That would be a positive development, though I can’t say I’m expecting as much. Thus far, the Obama administration has refused to discuss the intentions, theology and/or eschatology of ISIS. I maintain, however, that it is difficult to defeat an enemy one doesn’t fully understand or define.

Here’s a video clip from Brennan’s interview did with Scott Pelley of CBS News. The full interview is scheduled to air on Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”

Here, too, are excerpts from a Newsweek article:

  • The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has the capability to continue making small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas, according to CIA Director John Brennan.
  • The U.S.’s intelligence chief is due to appear in an interview on CBS News’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday but the channel released snippets from the interview late Thursday. In the interview, he said that ISIS has already used chemical weapons on the battlefield a number of times.
  • “We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the militant group.
  • Brennan said that despite the setbacks the group has faced because of the U.S.-led coalition campaign, it has retained the ability to develop deadly munitions.
  • “There are reports that ISIS has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use,” he said.
  • He also warned that the radical Islamist group may attempt to sell on the weapons that they develop into Western countries.
  • “I think there’s always the potential for that. This is why it’s so important to cut off the various transportation routes and smuggling routes that they have used,” he said….
  • “U.S. intelligence is actively involved in being a part of the efforts to destroy ISIL and to get as much insight into what they have on the ground inside of Syria and Iraq,” he continued.
  • U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said this week that ISIS’s development of chemical weapons was the first instance of an extremist group doing so since Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth cult used sarin gas in a rush-hour attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

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What’s Rubio reading? “The Twelfth Imam,” a thriller about Apocalyptic Islam.

Rubio-carryingTwelfthImamTwelfthImam-trilogy-covers(Central Israel) — After an intense but wonderful month-long book tour in the U.S., I’m so glad to report that I’m back in Israel with my family, safe and sound. Thanks to all of you who are sending me messages via Twitter, Facebook and email regarding the next novel in the J.B. Collins series. Please rest assured that I’m hard at work on the next novel. Indeed, I began developing the outline in December, and this coming week I’ll actually start writing.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of being an author is meeting people all over the U.S., Canada and around the world who are reading my books, as well as hearing about all different kinds of people from all walks of life and in all kinds of jobs and professions who are reading and enjoying the books.

To that end, here’s a fun photo that popped up on the Reuters wire service this past week — Senator Marco Rubio boarding a flight from New Hampshire to South Carolina carrying a few books for reading on the plane, including one of my political thrillers, The Twelfth Imam.

Given the Senator’s interest in — and outspokenness about — the threat of Apocalyptic Islam, I was glad but not entirely surprised to see this on his reading list.

Whereas my current series of novels — The Third Target and The First Hostage — focus on a plot by the apocalyptic, genocidal leaders of the Islamic State to attack the U.S., Israel and Jordan with chemical weapons, The Twelfth Imam was the first in a trilogy of thrillers I wrote several years ago that focused on the Iran nuclear threat.

Here’s a brief description of The Twelfth Imam: “As the apocalyptic leaders of Iran call for the annihilation of Israel and the U.S., CIA operative David Shirazi is sent into Tehran with one objective: use all means necessary to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering a regional war. At extreme personal risk, Shirazi executes his plan. A native Farsi speaker whose family escaped from Iran in 1979, he couldn’t be better prepared for the mission. But none of his training has prepared Shirazi for what will happen next. An obscure religious cleric is suddenly hailed throughout the region as the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam. News of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders spreads like wildfire, as do rumors of a new and horrific war. With the prophecy of the Twelfth Imam seemingly fulfilled, Iran’s military prepares to strike Israel and bring about the End of Days. Shirazi must take action to save his country and the world, but the clock is ticking.”

This novel was then followed by two more in the series, The Tehran Initiative and Damascus Countdown. I’m encouraged to see Senator Rubio beginning the series, and I hope you’ll start reading them, as well, if you haven’t already. In fact, if you do, please send me a picture!

(NOTE: This is not an endorsement of a candidate. In the spirit of fairness, let me be clear: I’ll be very happy to post photos of other presidential candidates carrying and reading copies of my books, as well.)

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To defeat ISIS, we need to retake Iraq & cut the Caliphate in half. (My radio interview with Hugh Hewitt on Apocalyptic Islam)

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(Washington, D.C.) — Over the course of the last month, as I’ve been traveling across the country on The First Hostage book tour, people have been consistently asking me a series of excellent questions:

  1. How do we defeat ISIS?
  2. What should the Obama administration be doing that it isn’t?
  3. If this administration can’t or won’t get the job done, what should the next President do?
  4. Should we send a ground force into Syria?
  5. What about the ancient Islamic prophecies that the West will get slaughtered in the Syrian town of Dabiq?

On Wednesday afternoon, I was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his nationally syndicated talk show host. I have grown to respect Hugh as a serious thinker as well as an excellent interviewer, both on radio and in his role helping to moderate the CNN presidential debates. Hugh, a devout Christian and a skilled lawyer, reads voraciously and has an insatiable hunger to learn. Often when I’m in Israel, I enjoy listening to the podcast of his interviews not only with the presidential candidates but with key experts on foreign policy and national security matters.

During our conversation about The First Hostage — my last interview on this book tour — we discussed each of these questions, as well as how I write novels and do my research. You can listen to the podcast of the full interview by clicking here.

That said, here’s a slightly more detailed explanation of my view on how to defeat ISIS:

  1. Yes, a coalition of U.S., Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian, Egyptian, and other Sunni Arab military forces can and must crush the Islamic State. This is a winnable war, but not with the current strategy of half-measures, pinprick bombings, and political tough talk not backed up by a serious military approach to win.
  2. What the Obama administration should be doing is pursuing a “Take Back Iraq First” approach. Since the first Gulf war in 1991, and then with the war to liberate Iraq in 2003, followed by the surge strategy in 2006-2008, the American people have identified Iraq has a strategically important country to us. Getting Iraq right matters. We have invested heavily in liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein and from the clutches of al Qaeda and other Radical Islamic terror groups. Withdrawing all our forces in December 2011 was a terrible and foreseeable error. It created a vacuum that ISIS exploited. Now we’re seeing genocide against Christians and Yazidis by the Islamic State, the wicked fruit of Apocalyptic Islam. Thus, the goal now must be to re-take Iraq — and cut the Caliphate in half — using decisive military force. We likely need 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. boots on the ground, primarily special forces. We need to heavily arm the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. We need to strengthen the Iraqi military. We need to increase arms (and humanitarian aid and other economic assistance) to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, our most faithful Sunni Arab ally in the region. We also need to work closely with Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf States and get their active participation. The mission: to storm across northern Iraq, crush ISIS wherever they are found, liberate Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — set the captives free, crush ISIS once and for all, and drive whatever remains of the terror group back into Syria. This could likely be done by the end of 2016 if the U.S. took the lead and was fully committed to victory. By cutting the Caliphate in half, it would deal a serious blow to ISIS morale and their sense that they are invincible.
  3. If President Obama won’t pursue such a strategy, then we need to elect an American President who understands the threat of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and has the courage and wisdom to fight to win, beginning with re-taking Iraq.
  4. No, I don’t believe we should send U.S. ground forces into Syria. That Arab nation is imploding. It’s engaged in a Hellish civil war. Now the Russians and Iranians are fighting there on behalf of Bashar al-Assad and his evil regime. There are no good options. There are no rationale leaders that we can identify at this point who could truly govern the country in a civilized way, even if we could defeat ISIS, remove Assad, and pacify the civil war. Syria is a hornets’ nest. My heart breaks for the people of Syria. The U.S. and other world powers need to help Jordan and Lebanon care for the millions of Syrian refugees that have flooded their borders. We should not take Syrian refugees into the U.S. because we cannot vet them and determine who is a terrorist and who is not. We should use air power to consistently degrade ISIS forces, infrastructure, oil reserves, and so forth. But we should not launch a ground force into a country that we have no plan — or ability — at this point to truly rescue.
  5. While there are many reasons at this point not to launch a ground war into Syria, fear of ancient Islamic prophecies about an end of the world battle in Dabiq is not on the list. Those are false prophecies. ISIS is driven by them. But they are not Biblical prophecies. They are not based on truth. They are based on false teaching. We needn’t fear false teaching and false prophecy. Since we can degrade ISIS in Dabiq (and Raqqa, and elsewhere) from the air, that’s what we should do for now. Once we have worked with our Sunni Arab allies in the region to re-take Iraq, and degrade ISIS forces in Syria from the air, then we can re-evaluate and develop the next phase of our strategy. But while we need to understand how Apocalyptic, genocidal, Islamic eschatology motivates ISIS leaders, we need not hesitate confronting them because of their apocalypse-addled thinking.

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