San Angelo Native Warns of ISIS Threat to U.S., West Texas
Last Thursday, a 24-year-old Houston man was arrested after investigations into alleged terrorist attack plans. Based on reports, Hardan is an Iraqi refugee of Palestinian heritage who entered the U.S. in 2009, one month before he turned 18. He was granted legal permanent resident status in 2011.
Hardan is just one of many ISIS sympathizers in the U.S., and undoubtedly more will come, as will terrorist acts.
So what does this have to do with West Texas?
In March 2014, Breitbart News reported that seven Texas cities were named on an ISIS “kill list,” which was released by the U.S. Department of Defense. Abilene was named on that list. ISIS also urged sympathizers and/or members in the U.S. to attack 23 states, and Texas made that list.
Not to mention, Midland-Odessa is considered “The Mecca of Oil” in the nation. People from around the nation and globe relocate or travel to work with the various energy sector companies housed in the area. Additionally, there are several military bases, including Dyess and Goodfellow Air Force Base, that play an important role in long-range bomber missions and hauling cargo, and gathering intelligence, respectively.
At this time, ISIS has taken root as the most powerful and organized terrorist organization of our times, and has, according to experts, surpassed al-Qaeda in that honor.
President Barack Obama states repeatedly, even after attacks in Paris and California, that “ISIS is containable;” however, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and some experts say that his last attempt at dealing with this problem may cause more harm than good. This includes two political experts from Washington D.C.-based The Aegis Group, LTD., Mario Castillo and Jim Davis. Aegis is a strategic Government relations agency, and both Castillo and Davis have more than 30 years of experience on foreign affairs. Castillo is also a native of San Angelo who founded the organization.
Even if ISIS was defeated, however, that doesn't win the war on Terror., experts say. In a report released in December by the Centre of Religion and Geopolitics (CRG), published by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, analysts stated, “The current focus on military defeat of ISIS does not consider the other groups in Syria (and around the world) with exactly the same global ideology and ambition.”
Next to al-Qaeda and ISIS, there are 15 other groups standing ready to succeed ISIS; therefore, this situation is far from “containable.”
The Scary Truth
In CRG’s report “If the Castle Falls: Ideology and Objectives of the Syrian Rebellion,” posted on the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s CRG website, analysts claim at least 65,000 militants in Syria share key parts of ISIS’ ideology, and five years after the secular rising in the Middle East, referred to as the “Arab Spring,” Syria now hosts the “largest gathering of jihadi groups in modern times.”
During their research, analysts who wrote the report found the ideology of these groups is “Salafi-jihadism: a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief of violent jihad to enforce a return to a perceived Islam of the Prophet Mohammad’s first followers.”
“Its cruel and horrific acts rightly shock us,” the report stated. “But ISIS is not simply a ‘death cult.’ The group represents a continuation of a way of thinking that started before it existed and will carry on if it is defeated. The West risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on ISIS. Defeating it militarily will not end global Jihadism.”
Based on their research, the analysts noted five key findings. To learn more, click here. Additionally, the study found that 48 rebel factions in Syria revealed that 33 percent of the groups—nearly 100,000 fighters—follow the same ideology as ISIS.
Out of these groups, the report stated, there are four large enough to hold territory and build “their utopian Islamic State:”
- Ahrar al-Sham: 15,000 members
- Jabhat al-Nusra: 10,000 members
- Jaish al-Islam: 17,000 members
- Liwa al-Umma: 6,000 members
“That’s a total of 48,000 militants who have also shown willingness to join forces in coalitions,” stated the report.”
Additionally, out of the 15 Salafi-jihadi groups opposed to ISIS, eight have committed themselves to international jihad, which means they are much more likely to support attacks on the West.
Why Things Have Gotten to This Point
Many people believe the issue with ISIS is a recent problem, and they put the blame on President Obama. Although he is not solely to blame for the creation of ISIS and these other extremist groups, he is guilty of assuming ISIS is containable, and he has failed to listen to Intel, said Castillo, who has received this verification from senior senate staffers in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“What they tell me is that they have numerous conversations with unhappy State Department personnel who said that the immediate office of the Secretary of State often ignores field Intel reports,” explained Castillo. “They are not listening to their ears and eyes on the ground, whether it’s in Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia or the Ukraine."
Castillo also said that the core of the problem is that the U.S. does not have the “chisme” (gossip) on the ground, or human intelligence sources.
“You have to have the on-ground talk,” he said. “We don’t have that capability, especially in countries where we are not fluent in the language. We also tend to want to compress all things evil of this terrorist movement to ISIS.”
Davis, who is the director of Aegis’ Eastern European office, and a seasoned political and business liaison, said this problem goes back to the days of President George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, who, at the time, listened to the wrong people when the U.S. marched into Iraq.
“They said we had to get rid of all the followers of Saddam Hussein,” Davis noted. As a result, the U.S. took and turned the entire military “upside down.” All the people with years of “the most complete up-to-date military experience available” were turned out onto the streets.
Davis said although it woudn’t have been easy, these men should have been retrained and kept close. Leadership could have been turned into a viable force that was effective and working towards U.S. interests.
“Instead, we put them in the streets,” Davis said. “And we started recruiting Shias."
Iran is made up of 99.4 percent Muslims. This includes Shiites (90 to 95 percent), Suni (5 - 10 percent), Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian (.3 percent) and unspecified (0.4 percent). While the U.S. spent its time investing billions of dollars to fix the Iraq situation, Iran was waiting because all the people in place were, in fact, Shiites, just like those in power in Iran. Then, the problem extends to Saudi Arabia, a Sunni-governed nation.
“This has left us with a problem there, and now we are seeing this played out because the Sunnis, and ISIS is basically a Sunni organization, now have the people with a military background going back 20 to 30 years,” Davis said. “They have the family alliance of various families in other countries that are primarily Sunni. Where do you think they’re getting all this money? I would say the cash flow out of Saudi Arabia in donations every day are probably $15 to $20 million to ISIS."
Castillo added that with the price of oil being where it’s at, members of the Saudi Royal Family, used to getting payoffs from the government, are continuing to make contributions to these various groups for their own stability.
“It’s not unlike a different form of blackmail,” Castillo explained. “At some point, it’s going to be a huge burden. It’s the first time the Saudis are facing a huge deficit in their budget."
Castillo added that the Saudis are having to raise the price of gasoline and the price of electricity in the country, and that’s “a powder keg waiting to go off.”
“We, as Americans, way back when we decided to partition parts of Arabia, put our future with the House of Saud, and that worked okay for a while. We made a fatal mistake if we didn't diversify our linkages with others," he stated.
This is a topic Davis and Castillo said they have discussed for some time.
“We have literally invested $6 trillion dollars in what I call the morass of the Middle East, a large geographical area. So the question is, what have we gotten for our $6 trillion dollars?" Castillo asked.
Here is what we have in our own country, he said:
- a failed education system
- collapsing bridges
- man-eating potholes
- transportation gridlocks second to none
- a declining international competitiveness
- an inadequate healthcare system (especially when it comes to returning U.S. soldiers in need of top-notch care)
Castillo stated this topic is an important aspect to the upcoming elections.
“Unless someone is seasoned, understands it, and is not a blow hard, [he or she] needs to deal with all the things mentioned," Castillo stated.
However, with the current individuals running for president in both parties, both Castillo and Davis said they fear things will only go from bad to worse. It will take more than egocentrism to fight what’s coming.