ISIS Remains a Threat

President Trump campaigned on getting America out of endless foreign wars. But he was also clear that he would let out military leaders fight the war as needed to win it, before leaving. So, at times, Trump grows impatient for the victory he wants to see during his term. In a mid-December 2018 tweet, Trump announced a bit prematurely that the United States was withdrawing from Syria, declaring, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

But by the end of December, Trump had backed off a bit, tweeting that our battle remained against “ISIS remnants” as the group was “mostly gone.” He has since decided to maintain a presence of about 400 troops in Syria.

War is always messy. Nobody can ever predict where it will go and by when. The enemy will try to counter in unexpected ways to upset any predictions of victory by our side. It also does not help that American military leadership seems to be indoctrinated over past decades into war management, rather than a victory that would allow a secure troop withdrawal.

But Trump’s short messaging style does prompt others in his administration to try to add clarity about what the administration understands. So, in early March 2019, National Security Advisor John Bolton, in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” made the point that the Islamic State remains a threat, and that it is “growing in other parts of the world” besides Syria and Iraq.

Bolton’s statement expands beyond narrow assertions of victory by President Trump and Vice President Pence. But to be clear, the president’s claims of having defeated the Islamic State group refer specifically to the actual shooting war in those two wrecked countries.

Trump has never been blind to the wider menace that he bluntly has called “radical Islamic terrorism.” So, Trump knows that Islamic State is just one current form of that enemy. But his direct goal has been to crush that horrid Islamic entity’s operating base inside Iraq and Syria. And under Trump’s leadership, that goal is coming closer.

To that end, several times lately, Trump has made the optimistic, if premature, claim that “100 percent” of ISIS has been defeated. For example, in early March, at an outdoor fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump reportedly said the caliphate was 100 percent destroyed, according to an attendee.

This series of victory declarations by Trump could also be a Trump tactic. As a builder, he is accustomed to push his organization to reach his goal on the timeline he has set for the job. He has limited patience for any project he manages to go over budget and past the due date. He brags on an early finish at a discount price, as he did upon completion of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, for the latest example. Declaring the job complete is one way for him to hurry it along toward the finish.

Another point is that wars might end with an indefinite combat mop-up after the win is declared. So, Trump’s repeat victory declarations just affirm that this war has reached that end stage. ISIS has been removed from holding territory. Its vanished leaders will never sign a ceasefire. But its last soldiers on this field are running, surrendering, or dying. They have ceased to function as a military with a caliphate base to operate from.

General Joseph Votel, the CENTCOM commander, further affirmed Bolton’s observation that the wider fight against scattered ISIS members and leaders is “far from over.”  But Bolton has also clarified that Trump never said that the elimination of the territorial caliphate means the end of ISIS agents.

“The president has been, I think, as clear as clear can be, when he talks about the defeat of the ISIS territorial caliphate,” Bolton said. “He has never said that the elimination of the territorial caliphate means the end of ISIS in total. We know that’s not the case.”

Bolton added that Islamic State fighters are “scattered still around Syria and Iraq,” and that ISIS itself is “growing in other parts of the world. The ISIS threat will remain.”

Bolton said that he is “very optimistic” that U.S. allies such as Britain and France will help in battling the resurgence of the group. “It hasn’t happened formally yet, but they’re looking at it. I think it’s very important that we try and get this up... The ISIS threat, the al-Qaeda threat, the terrorist threat is an ideological threat worldwide, and it’s something that I think we have to be vigilant against for the foreseeable future.”

And so what the Trump team is unified about is understanding that “radical Islamic” ideology continues. While the label is not a perfect threat assessment, no other president has dared to attach the “Islamic” label to that ideological threat. That is the positive change toward a clearer threat assessment which Trump has brought. The administration is clearly in discussion of ways to keep that ideology from forming new armies and taking territory in the murderous way that Islamic State has done over the past half-decade.

When the Islamic State comes again, perhaps under the watch of a weaker future president, it is likely to have yet another new name. But its supremacist terrors will again be based in the same Quran revered by our Muslim neighbors. It’s “excellent example” will be the same ancient warlord, Muhammad. Perhaps the newly emerging Islamic movement of conquest will be more deceptive and less openly warlike, as conditions allow. Perhaps it will vote and buy its way into power, instead of murdering its way into power. But the end goal of the agents of Islam will always be to make the whole world Islamic, under rule by Sharia.

Aynaz Anni Cyrus, an Iranian-American human rights activist, founder of Live up to Freedom, producer of The Glazov Gang and National Director of American Truth Project.

Anni was sold for $50 as a child bride in Islamic Republic of Iran. Escaping from her childhood in sex slavery, she found freedom in America. Now an American citizen, she is a leading spokeswoman against the evils of Islam.

President Trump campaigned on getting America out of endless foreign wars. But he was also clear that he would let out military leaders fight the war as needed to win it, before leaving. So, at times, Trump grows impatient for the victory he wants to see during his term. In a mid-December 2018 tweet, Trump announced a bit prematurely that the United States was withdrawing from Syria, declaring, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

But by the end of December, Trump had backed off a bit, tweeting that our battle remained against “ISIS remnants” as the group was “mostly gone.” He has since decided to maintain a presence of about 400 troops in Syria.

War is always messy. Nobody can ever predict where it will go and by when. The enemy will try to counter in unexpected ways to upset any predictions of victory by our side. It also does not help that American military leadership seems to be indoctrinated over past decades into war management, rather than a victory that would allow a secure troop withdrawal.

But Trump’s short messaging style does prompt others in his administration to try to add clarity about what the administration understands. So, in early March 2019, National Security Advisor John Bolton, in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” made the point that the Islamic State remains a threat, and that it is “growing in other parts of the world” besides Syria and Iraq.

Bolton’s statement expands beyond narrow assertions of victory by President Trump and Vice President Pence. But to be clear, the president’s claims of having defeated the Islamic State group refer specifically to the actual shooting war in those two wrecked countries.

Trump has never been blind to the wider menace that he bluntly has called “radical Islamic terrorism.” So, Trump knows that Islamic State is just one current form of that enemy. But his direct goal has been to crush that horrid Islamic entity’s operating base inside Iraq and Syria. And under Trump’s leadership, that goal is coming closer.

To that end, several times lately, Trump has made the optimistic, if premature, claim that “100 percent” of ISIS has been defeated. For example, in early March, at an outdoor fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump reportedly said the caliphate was 100 percent destroyed, according to an attendee.

This series of victory declarations by Trump could also be a Trump tactic. As a builder, he is accustomed to push his organization to reach his goal on the timeline he has set for the job. He has limited patience for any project he manages to go over budget and past the due date. He brags on an early finish at a discount price, as he did upon completion of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, for the latest example. Declaring the job complete is one way for him to hurry it along toward the finish.

Another point is that wars might end with an indefinite combat mop-up after the win is declared. So, Trump’s repeat victory declarations just affirm that this war has reached that end stage. ISIS has been removed from holding territory. Its vanished leaders will never sign a ceasefire. But its last soldiers on this field are running, surrendering, or dying. They have ceased to function as a military with a caliphate base to operate from.

General Joseph Votel, the CENTCOM commander, further affirmed Bolton’s observation that the wider fight against scattered ISIS members and leaders is “far from over.”  But Bolton has also clarified that Trump never said that the elimination of the territorial caliphate means the end of ISIS agents.

“The president has been, I think, as clear as clear can be, when he talks about the defeat of the ISIS territorial caliphate,” Bolton said. “He has never said that the elimination of the territorial caliphate means the end of ISIS in total. We know that’s not the case.”

Bolton added that Islamic State fighters are “scattered still around Syria and Iraq,” and that ISIS itself is “growing in other parts of the world. The ISIS threat will remain.”

Bolton said that he is “very optimistic” that U.S. allies such as Britain and France will help in battling the resurgence of the group. “It hasn’t happened formally yet, but they’re looking at it. I think it’s very important that we try and get this up... The ISIS threat, the al-Qaeda threat, the terrorist threat is an ideological threat worldwide, and it’s something that I think we have to be vigilant against for the foreseeable future.”

And so what the Trump team is unified about is understanding that “radical Islamic” ideology continues. While the label is not a perfect threat assessment, no other president has dared to attach the “Islamic” label to that ideological threat. That is the positive change toward a clearer threat assessment which Trump has brought. The administration is clearly in discussion of ways to keep that ideology from forming new armies and taking territory in the murderous way that Islamic State has done over the past half-decade.

When the Islamic State comes again, perhaps under the watch of a weaker future president, it is likely to have yet another new name. But its supremacist terrors will again be based in the same Quran revered by our Muslim neighbors. It’s “excellent example” will be the same ancient warlord, Muhammad. Perhaps the newly emerging Islamic movement of conquest will be more deceptive and less openly warlike, as conditions allow. Perhaps it will vote and buy its way into power, instead of murdering its way into power. But the end goal of the agents of Islam will always be to make the whole world Islamic, under rule by Sharia.

Aynaz Anni Cyrus, an Iranian-American human rights activist, founder of Live up to Freedom, producer of The Glazov Gang and National Director of American Truth Project.

Anni was sold for $50 as a child bride in Islamic Republic of Iran. Escaping from her childhood in sex slavery, she found freedom in America. Now an American citizen, she is a leading spokeswoman against the evils of Islam.