The greatest balance sheet assets of al Qaeda and ISIS are what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots”, i.e., President Barack Obama and neocons like Republican Sens. John McCain Of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who inflate the danger of international terrorism manifold in the service of the military-industrial-counterterrorism complex.
These useful idiots provide international terrorist organizations with arms and recruits.
Such aid violates the criminal prohibition on material assistance to international terrorist organizations. But no prosecutions are forthcoming. In the American Empire, the rule of law is what the rulers inflict on their adversaries.
Mr. Obama and neoconservatives exulted at the 2011 Libyan war that occasioned the overthrow and murder of secular strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The aftermath was as certain as Newton’s laws of motion. Gaddafi’s vast conventional weapons arsenal fell into the hands of international terrorists.
Weapons captured by al Qaeda and associated forces included 20,000 sophisticated Russian SA-24 missiles, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, similar to the U.S. Stinger missile capable of destroying combat aircraft flying at heights of 11,000 feet; and, huge stockpiles of smaller SA-7 and SA-9 heat-seeking, surface-to-air-missiles capable of shooting down slower, lower-flying targets. In 2002, al Qaeda used SA-7 missiles to attempt a shoot down of an Israeli airliner over the Kenyan port city of Mombassa.
Russian SA-24 missiles are an upgraded version of the anti-aircraft missiles the United States supplied Afghan Mujahideen to defeat the Soviet invasion.
The power vacuum created by the overthrow of Gaddafi materially assisted ISIS in expanding its reach into Libya. ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) now occupies Derna, a city of 100,000 on the Mediterranean coast.
Mr. Obama and neocons have also supported a renewed American military involvement in Iraq through arms and training of Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS. The boomerang results providing material assistance to ISIS were as foreseeable as the rising and setting of the sun. Last May, the ISIS fleet of captured U.S. military vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, jumped by more than 100 when Iraqi Security Forces fled Ramadi and abandoned our equipment. Our artillery pieces were also left behind for ISIS (or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). In Ramadi, ISIS displayed some of their captured vehicles in a victory parade of Toyota land cruisers to boost recruitment amongst impressionable youths.
Mr. Obama and neocons further assisted ISIS recruitment by initiating war against the international terrorist organization and proclaiming it a military juggernaut eager and able to inflict devastating blows against the United States. Last September, Mr. Obama maintained: “ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”
Mr. Graham was even more hyperbolic: “This is a war we’re fighting, it is not a counterterrorism operation! … [T]his is a turning point in the war on terror … [I]f they survive our best shot … then they will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. This is not a Sunni versus Sunni problem, this is ISIL versus mankind.”
By their semi-hysterical exaggerations, Mr. Obama and neocons have given ISIS the appearance of the New York Yankees among international terrorists, and recruitment has soared accordingly.
According to the CIA, ISIS ranks have swelled to as many as 31,500, and have not diminished over the past year despite the killing of 15,000 militants in more than 5,500 airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.
The United States prosecuted Ali Hamza Ahmed Suliman Al Bahlul for producing an al Qaeda recruiting video featuring the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. But Mr. Obama and neocons have done much more to boost recruitment to international terrorist organizations, and are morally culpable for their stupidity.
They remain useful idiots to ISIS and al Qaeda.