Evene though Obama was dragged into doing the right thing kicking and screaming, I was thrilled when I heard last night we were striking ISIS in Syria, and in a serious way. None of that pin-prick garbage we are implementing in Iraq. Instead, Tomahawk missile and scores of bombing runs.
We were also told of 5 Arab nations joining us. At first there were no details about what “participating” meant. I tweeted my curiosity about this as “participation” could means a vareity of things, including allowing us to fly over territory. But today there are some details, and all are reported to have flown sorties, with only Qatar (the funder of Hamas and other terror operations) flying but not dropping ordinance.
Among the Al Nusrah Front positions targeted in the bombings are locations where members of the so-called “Khorasan group” are thought to be located. Ayman al Zawahiri, the emir of al Qaeda, sent the group to Syria specifically to plan attacks against the US and its interests. The group, which takes its name from al Qaeda’s Khorasan shura (or advisory) council, includes experienced al Qaeda operatives who have been involved in planning international terrorist attacks for years.
Al Fadhli’s presence in Syria was first reported by the Arab Times in March. Shortly thereafter, The Long War Journal confirmed and expanded on this reporting. [See LWJ report, Former head of al Qaeda’s network in Iran now operates in Syria.] The Long War Journal reported at the time that al Fadhli’s plans “were a significant cause for concern among counterterrorism authorities.”
The New York Times reported earlier this month that al Fadhli is a leader in the Khorasan group in Syria.
Unconfirmed reports on jihadist social media sites say that al Fadhli was killed in the bombings. Neither US officials, nor al Qaeda has verified this reporting. The fog of war often makes it difficult to quickly confirm whether an individual jihadist has been killed, wounded, or survived unscathed. Initial reports should be treated with skepticism and there is no firm evidence yet that al Fadhli has been killed.
Here is a Twitter post about the possibility that this savage is dead:
— Jihad News (@JihadNews2) September 23, 2014
Here are more details:
It’s a little-known Islamic extremist group with a deadly mission — sneaking explosives onto U.S.-bound flights. Fearing an attack was imminent, the U.S. expanded its airstrikes in Syria to include the Khorasan group, hoping to deliver a decisive blow before the al-Qaida-linked militants can turn their plans into action.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have been telling journalists that the Khorasan group — a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe — poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States than the Islamic State.
The Islamic State wants to establish a new caliphate in Muslim lands. The Khorosan group wants a new 9/11.
The group traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front, and has been working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
Questions now emerging about what all this will cost:
And from Weekly Standard about whether or not there will be more strikes:
“Last night’s strikes were only the beginning,” Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told the Pentagon press corps. More strikes can be “expected.”
Well, let’s hope so: the $64,000 question has been whether Barack Obama would take this war seriously, and whether the military means would match the mission of degrading and “ultimately destroying” the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. As Kirby’s only-the-beginning comment implies, the strikes carried out last night were more pinpricks than shock-and-awe. Indeed, 1998’s Operation Desert Fox – the Clinton-era cruise-missile raid that introduced the term “pinprick” to military punditry – was many times larger than last night’s as-yet-unnamed operation.
Even a cursory review of what’s known about the strikes reveals that they are more notable for what they weren’t than what they were. Begin at the level of international politics: announcing the strikes, President Obama stressed that the “broad coalition” against ISIL “makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone.” But based upon the public reckoning from last night, the coalition is very narrow and small. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain “participated” militarily, while Qatar, host to the U.S. Navy’s regional headquarters, “supported” operations. In other words, the coalition consisted exclusively of “moderate” Sunni states. That’s not bad – these are our long-standing and most natural allies, and they represent the most “willing,” if only because they have no where else to turn even when they doubt us. But it leaves out Turkey and looks like (and in fact is) an anti-Iran, anti-Shi’a lineup. It also doesn’t mention Iraq, whose Kurds surely “supported” the strikes flown from bases near Irbil. We are intervening in a region-wide struggle for power, and the size and composition of the coalition reflect that fact.