By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, February 27, US Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in an email to constituents that he is concerned about the terrorist group ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
Congressman Rogers said, “As I made my way around East Alabama during the District Work Week, one of the issues I heard about the most at my “Congress on Your Corner” events was the threat from the group known as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL or IS). Folks were very concerned about the utter brutality shown by this radical terrorist group.” Rep. Rogers said, “I am very concerned as well.”
Rep. Rogers wrote that, “With the 24/7 news coverage, we are all too familiar with the barbaric actions of this group. They have executed Americans and other innocent individuals from around the world by beheading and even burned a Jordanian pilot alive. Most recently, we learned of the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians. The Islamic State killed them for one reason – because of their faith.”
Rep. Rogers said, “The Islamic State does not play by any rules when it comes to the treatment of the individuals they hold captive. They are a terrorist group who must be stopped and stopped soon. The Obama Administration is finally starting to give more than lip service to the need for a more coherent strategy to confront the Islamic State. This week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), which I am a part of, will also hold a full committee hearing focused on the President’s request for Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).”
Rep. Rogers said, “While I believe this request for Authorization is a necessary step in the right direction, it does not outline a well thought out strategy for success. We can’t mistake action for a strategy. Arab allies like Jordan, Egypt and the UAE are starting to take the fight to the Islamic State. The US should support our allies and deliver the unique brand of American justice to the terrorist group. What we as Americans must do for now is remain vigilant as we go about our daily routines and remember that we are dealing with a group like we have never dealt with before.”
The conservative Alabama Congressman warned, “The Islamic State is barbaric and radical, and eliminating this group will not be a short or simple task.”
When the United States invaded Iraq, U.S. armed forces defeated the armed forces of Saddam Hussein relatively quickly. The Sunni terrorist group Al Qaeda (then headed by Osama Bin Laden) urged Islamist fighters from around the world to come to Iraq and fight the American forces as well as Shiites and Kurds. Al Qaeda of Iraq was eventually defeated by the U.S. military and they retreated across the border to Syria, where a despised Alawite religious minority under the Assad family ruled over a largely Sunni populace.
In 2012 the ‘Arab Spring’ led to the overthrow of military dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and (with considerable American and European support) in Libya. A loose coalition of Sunni groups from across the political spectrum revolted against Assad (with international support). The Obama Administration threatened to intervene in Syria to help the rebels (like the US and its allies intervened to help Libyan rebels overthrow their government). Massacres of Christians and others by the Syrian rebels eventually led to Congress questioning the wisdom of that strategy. Eventually the Free Syria Army was largely routed and the group of former Al Qaeda fighters from Iraq (who declared their independence from their parent group) emerged as the strongest of the Syrian rebel groups. President Obama once dismissed the group, now calling themselves the Islamic State of Syria, as the Al Qaeda JV team.
In 2014 the Islamic State of Syria invaded western Iraq. The largely Shiite government was widely unpopular with the Sunnis in western Iraq and several Iraqi Sunni tribes went over to the side of the invaders. The Shia army fled or surrendered. Vast stockpiles of weaponry supplied by the U.S. fell to the rebels. The group renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, fell to ISIS. Religious and ethnic minorities including Christians and Yazidis were executed and brutalized if they would not convert. Numerous women have been taken as sex slaves. The violence has often been posted on the internet and serves to recruit more fighters from across the globe. An estimated 20,000 fighter from over 90 countries including the United States have served in ISIS’s army.
After taking Mosul, which was the first capital of the Caliphate following Islam’s expansion out of Arabia, the group declared they were the new Caliphate and have called all true (meaning they agree with ISIS) believers around the world to join them. They have now branched out into Libya where the U.S. backed government has largely collapsed. ISIS is an apocalyptic group. They believe that this is the end times and that they are destined to rule the Islamic world and that Jesus will come soon to judge the world.
It is believed that the US led coalition will launch an assault to retake Mosul (which is across the river from the ancient city of Assyria) in the Spring. Some military analysts believe that only U.S. ground troops can accomplish that feat.
Congressman Mike Rogers represents the Third Congressional District of Alabama.