Peter Brookes: Turn up heat on ISIS

By: Peter Brookes

If the recent “lone wolf” terror attacks here and in Canada were inspired by Islamist terrorist propaganda such as that ginned up by the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL), wouldn’t it make sense to snuff out the inspiration for that violent extremism?

Uh, yeah!

In other words, turning up the heat on the Islamic State — which has truly become a social media “superpower” spreading hateful Islamist radicalism across the globe– might be a darn good place to start.

Sure, we’re seemingly at war with the Islamic State. But the temperature set by Team Obama’s strategy so far is little more than a “simmer,” when the flame needs to be turned up to “boil” if we want to make a big difference anytime soon.

It seems the campaign so far is pretty much a draw, having slowed but not derailed the Islamic State Express, despite the fact that the terrorist “army” is fighting the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi/Kurdish forces across two countries.

That’s not encouraging.

While administration spokespersons continue to preach “strategic patience” in fighting the Islamic State, evidence of, or progress toward, the stated goal of degrading and destroying the world’s largest terrorist group — ever! — is pretty hard to find.

The fact is that if the Islamic State isn’t losing, it’s winning.

While our approach to battling violent Islamist extremism in its many variations must be multipronged, the Islamic State is the most “successful” terror group out there, and we should have a hard focus on its demise.

As a result of its “winning” image portrayed on social media, among other factors, the Islamic State has reportedly drawn as many as 15,000 foreign fighters from some 80 countries to build its caliphate across Iraq and Syria.

And that may be just for starters.

Last week, besides the Islamist-inspired attacks in Canada and the United States, three Denver school girls sought to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State before being intercepted after landing in Germany.

They know how to find foot soldiers, funders and followers.

So, instead of Team Obama asking for forbearance in Operation Inherent Resolve, the tragic turn of events here and in Canada with Islamist-induced terrorism says that a long-term tolerance of the Islamic State is increasingly dangerous.

It’s not as if the Islamic State is showing patience. Just last month, one of the group’s postings reportedly called for the killing of Americans, Europeans, Australians and Canadians or any other coalition member “in any manner or way.”

That means at home or abroad.

While not a fail-safe answer for our security from violent Islamist extremism, the Islamic State’s near-term destruction would eliminate a wellspring of encouragement to those who may thirst for their warped message. Not to mention, eliminating the Islamic State terrorist “machine” would remove its threat to Middle East stability and U.S. regional interests — and diminish the chances of an Islamic State-trained, passport-carrying terrorist coming home to kill.

Despite widely expressed concerns from counterterror cognoscenti about the threat of Islamist-inspired terrorism at home and abroad, Team Obama doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. The question is: What are we waiting for?

This column was first published in the Boston Herald.

Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow, a former deputy 
assistant secretary of defense and a Fort Valley resident. Follow him on Twitter @Brookes_Peter.

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