On June 29, 2011, John Brennan, who was then a senior adviser to the president and is currently the CIA director, explained the Obama administration’s counterterrorism strategy.
“Our strategy is…shaped by a deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals, strategy, and tactics,” Brennan claimed. “I’m not talking about al Qaeda’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate. That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counterterrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen. We are not going to elevate these thugs and their murderous aspirations into something larger than they are.”
Watch here (15:38 to 16:07):
Three years later to the day, on June 29, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) announced that it now ruled large swaths of Iraq and Syria as a caliphate.
ISIL, which grew out of al Qaeda in Iraq before eventually being disowned by al Qaeda’s senior leadership, changed its name to simply the “Islamic State.” And the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is now known as “Caliph Ibrahim.”
Mass killings and mayhem follow the Islamic State wherever it goes. They are still marauding through Iraq — two months after their current campaign began in early June.
The threat from the Islamic State is so great that President Obama, who campaigned on supposedly bringing an “end” to the war in Iraq, has now ordered airstrikes and humanitarian relief missions in northern Iraq. Those strikes are intended to protect American diplomats and aid Iraqis under siege.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.