Citing a handful of fighters allegedly working with Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and shadowy terror groups in Malaysia and the Philippines, the coalition assembled by the United States to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is debating whether it needs to broaden its campaign, The New York Times reports.
The Times report indicates the desire to enlarge the war on terror in places where there is little more than “a small number of fighters,” for instance Libya and the Sinai, is being pushed by members of the 60 nation coalition assembled against ISIS, said to number between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters.
Pledges to join the terror Borg hive trained by the United States in Jordan and recently supplied by US air drops on several occasions have come from “at least a couple hundred extremists” in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, the Times reports, citing the usual suspects with a stake in the ever expanding war on terror, namely (and routinely unnamed) “American counterterrorism officials.”
The Times also admits that many of these dangerous terror groups are not necessarily fighting with or committed to the Islamic State and “it is not clear to what extent the Islamic State exerts command over the groups it is supporting.”
Despite this ambiguity, war on terror officials cite purported contacts between IS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in the Sinai, Boko Harm in Nigeria, Jemaah Islamiyah in Malaysia, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines and Taliban factions in Afghanistan.
The Long and Evolving War Against IS
In September Obama said the effort to roust Saudi funded and US trained IS fighters will take years to complete and will continue long after he leaves office. In addition to a sustained air campaign and the possibility of ground troops, the game plan calls for an invasion of Syria. The Pentagon estimated this part of the plan would take at least 36 months.
The Pentagon is notorious for issuing such off the wall figures. Back in 2002, as the U.S. prepared for an invasion of Iraq — ultimate death toll, over a million people — then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared the invasion would be mercifully short. “The idea that it’s going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind I think is belied by the fact of what happened in 1990,” he said, making a reference to the previous invasion of Iraq. “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that,” he said. “It won’t be a World War III.”
Following the official timeline the Iraq War lasted nearly nine years, making it the third longest war in U.S. history. The War in Afghanistan lasted just over 13 years and the Vietnam War nearly 11. By contrast, U.S. participation in the Second World War ended after 3.7 years.