Taking the jihad against the non-Muslim world to a new level.
The likelihood that the Russian Metrojet Flight 7K9268 was downed by an Islamic State (ISIS) bomb planted on board demonstrates anew that the free world’s response to the self-styled caliphate so far remains woefully inadequate to meet the challenges that this jihad terror entity presents.
The first problem that this plane crash reveals is that analysts are still underestimating ISIS. Barack Obama famously dubbed it “the JV team” back in January 2014. One would think that after the Islamic State declared itself the new caliphate on June 29, 2014, seized and continues to hold a territory larger than Great Britain in Iraq and Syria, gained the allegiance of older jihad groups in the Philippines, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, and attracted 30,000 foreign jihadis to join it from all over the world, that this estimation would have been revised upward.
No such luck. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, said Monday that he thought it “unlikely” that the Islamic State brought down the plane, although he wouldn’t rule out the possibility altogether. An Egyptian airport security official, meanwhile, dismissed the possibility of ISIS involvement altogether, saying it was incapable of mounting such an attack. “Such groups take advantage of such incidents to prove they are powerful on the ground,” he said. Referring to the Islamic State’s claims to have downed the airliner, he added: “Assuming they are right, why have they not targeted Egyptian or military flights during battle fights with Egyptian military? As far as I am aware, such a group has no weapons to reach an aircraft flying over 9,000 metres.”
Maybe not. ISIS had other ways of getting the job done: “There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane,” said a U.S. official.
The persistence of the underestimation of ISIS only gives the group room to maneuver, and to carry out without hindrance operations that those who have vowed to stop it don’t think it is capable of pulling off.
Another principal problem that the downing of the Russian airliner reveals is that current air security measures are completely ineffective. Who planted the explosive device in luggage or somewhere on the plane? Since a passenger would have had to get the explosive materials through security screening, it was likely an Islamic State operative who was an employee of the airport or airline and was thus able to pass through security with lessened suspicion, avoiding undue scrutiny.
At Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in Egypt, there could be any number of such people, but American TSA officials should not consider themselves immune to this problem. There are numerous Muslims working in sensitive positions in airports in the U.S., and no one would dream of doing something so “Islamophobic” as to question them about their loyalties.
Maybe a little such “Islamophobia” is called for: Harlem Suarez, a Florida convert to Islam implicated in an Islamic State WMD plot, worked in secure areas at Key West International Airport. Another airport worker, Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, according to Heavy.com, “converted to Islam in 1998 while living in Texas and became radical in his beliefs, according to ABC News. In 2001, while Pugh was a mechanic for American Airlines, a coworker reported to the FBI that Pugh said he sympathized with Osama bin Laden and was expressing anti-American sentiment” Abdirahmaan Muhumed, a Muslim from Minnesota who was killed while waging jihad with the Islamic State, worked for Delta Airlines at the Minneapolis Airport. For its part, the TSA failed to identify 73 workers who were “linked to terrorism.”
A plane could easily be down in a similar way here. Both the U.S. and Russia have vowed to destroy the Islamic State, and even before that, the ISIS caliph Ibrahim, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, identified those two nations as the caliphate’s main enemies: “O ummah of Islam,” he said in his inaugural message on being named caliph, “indeed the world today has been divided into two camps and two trenches, with no third camp present: The camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy—the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere, and the camp of the jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the jews.” (Al-Baghdadi, or his typographer, made the decision not to capitalize “Jews.”)
America and Russia. Both have now tasted the jihadis’ ability to use passenger airliners as weapons of war against the countries from which they originated. Given the inadequacy of the U.S. response to ISIS, America at least, if not Russia, is likely to see much more of this.
AP//Libya’s internationally recognized government, with strong backing from neighboring Egypt, on Tuesday urged fellow Arab countries to provide arms to help it defeat a local Islamic State affiliate and criticized the U.S.-led coalition for confining its efforts to Syria and Iraq.
Egypt criticized what it called international “double standards” and “lethargy” in dealing with the spread of the IS group in Libya, where the militants have exploited the chaos following the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, seizing his hometown of Sirte and other areas.
Egypt has meanwhile been grappling with a wave of attacks by another IS affiliate based in the northern Sinai Peninsula, and last week IS fighters claimed to have beheaded a Croat abducted on the outskirts of Cairo.
Cairo’s representative to the Arab League, Tarek Adel, said his country would keep pressuring the international community to lift an arms embargo and provide assistance to Libya’s military. Egypt has targeted Libya’s IS (Daesh) branch with airstrikes, including after the group killed 21 captive Egyptian Christians earlier this year.
The Arab League emergency meeting Tuesday was called for after IS fighters in Sirte put down a local revolt against their rule, killing rival Muslim clerics, desecrating the bodies of prisoners and seizing new ground. “Libya is bleeding,” Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi told the gathering of resident diplomats. He warned that his ill-equipped government is unable to fight off IS, which he said was seeking to establish a base in Libya as it faces U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
Libya has slid into chaos in the years since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, and is now divided between an elected parliament and government in the far eastern town of Tobruk and an Islamist militia-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli. The North African nation has been under a U.N. arms embargo since 2011. In March, the Security Council renewed the ban, but allowed a sanctions committee to review requests for exemptions. U.N. members are concerned that weapons could fall into the hands of any number of armed groups.
Al-Dairi said U.N.-brokered talks to form a national unity government should not “obstruct” arming the military to fight IS. Egypt’s representative said fighting terrorism should run “parallel” to the political process, and “requires urgent movement on the international and regional levels to dry up the sources of terrorism and their finances and to lift the arms embargo.” “What is surprising is that double-standard with which the international community is dealing with the threats of Daesh,” Adel said, using the Arabic acronym for the IS group. “There is energy and work when it comes to pushing it back in Syria and Iraq, but ignoring the same group’s practices in Libya.”
In a statement over the weekend, Egypt’s foreign ministry sharply criticized the international coalition, saying that “despite our constant urging, it has refused to be more emphatic, decisive and swift in its response to Daesh. This has undoubtedly undermined international efforts to combat terrorism in the region.” In a statement after the Tuesday meeting, the Arab League urged member states to help Libya, separately or as a group, without elaborating. Arab League officials said member states are meeting next week to discuss the formation of a joint Arab force to be used to intervene in regional crises and combat terrorism.