The Terrorist Organization That Is More Dangerous Than ISIS Has Its Sights on the U.S.

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In Heritage Work

Al-Qaeda members in Syria

Al-Qaeda members in Syria. (Photo: Newscom)

Many Americans know very little about the terrorist group Khorasan, which U.S. intelligence leadership is portraying as a much more dangerous threat to our homeland than ISIS.

Heritage Foundation expert James Phillips tells us what we need to know about this group:

  • Khorasan is a group of the most trusted and battle-hardened Al-Qaeda operatives. They are numbered in the dozens and are under the direct command of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qaeda.
  • They were sent from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria with the main goal of recruiting rebel fighters who hold Western passports.  Their purpose is not to attack Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, but the American homeland and other western targets.
  • Khorasan fighters include some of the most sophisticated bomb-makers and terrorist masterminds wanted by the U.S. government.
  • Al-Qaeda is worried about ISIS stealing the spotlight and unseating them as the leader of the global Islamist insurgency.  A massive terrorist attack on American soil would go a long way in helping Al-Qaeda regain the popularity it has lost in the years since Osama bin Laden’s death.

To combat Khorasan, Phillips urges Washington to “stop treating the al-Qaeda threat as primarily a law enforcement problem, and adopt a comprehensive political, military, and ideological program for defeating al-Qaeda’s global insurgency.”

You can read more from James Phillips on Khorasan here and here.

What do you think should be done to curb this threat?

More Passengers Are Flying TSA-Free, and That’s a Good Thing

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In Heritage Work

TSA

TSA personnel are being replaced by private sector employees at airports across America. Photo: Getty Images

Orlando’s Sanford International Airport just became the 19th airport in America to employ a private company to run its day-to-day security operations, replacing Transportation Security Administration agents.

At these 19 airports, the TSA still oversees all screening operations and provides regulations that are standardized across the country. But more and more airports around the country are finding that they can improve security, lower costs, and provide better customer service by replacing unionized TSA personnel.

“The TSA should do more to get out of the personnel management game and return its focus to overseeing security at U.S. airports,” The Heritage Foundation’s David Inserra argues.

Do you think the TSA should get out of the screening business?

Defeating ISIS Requires a Strategy. Congressional Approval Would Help Too.

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In Heritage Work

The Obama administration needs to develop a comprehensive coordinated strategy for defeating ISIS terrorists. Congress must closely analyze whether ISIS, as a legal matter, falls under the 2001 AUMF (authorization for use of military force) given the historical ties between ISIS and al Qaeda.  And if ISIS does not fall under the 2001 AUMF then Congress and the administration must craft an ISIS-specific authorization for use of military force, Heritage Foundation expert Cully Stimson writes in a new report.

The administration “must develop a comprehensive, overarching strategy to confront and ultimately defeat this enemy,” Stimson argues. “Working with our partners and allies and the countries in the region that are most affected by ISIS, the United States must do what it traditionally has done: lead.”

He continues:

The vibrant debate among legal scholars regarding the domestic and international law basis for U.S. military action against ISIS is partly due to the fact that the Administration has yet to provide the public with a clear, comprehensive legal analysis of its power to use military force against ISIS. As a general principle, when a President puts our troops in harm’s way for a sustained period of time, it is advisable for him to propose, consult with, and obtain express authorization from Congress. That consultation and debate should be public, not buried in a continuing resolution or other must-pass legislation. Sending our troops into war requires a sober, deliberate debate that is not influenced by electoral politics.

Do you think the administration needs explicit authorization from Congress to fight ISIS?

How ISIS Makes $100 Million Every Month from Oil

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In Heritage Work

ISIS’s control of oil fields in Iraq and Syria is making it difficult for those countries to work with the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy”  ISIS. Not only does their grip on oil production affect U.S. strategy, the brutal terrorist organization uses that oil wealth to help finance its terror operations.

And the profit margin isn’t small. The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness writes:

According to the Iraq Energy Institute, an independent, nonprofit policy organization focused on Iraq’s energy sector, the army of radical Islamists controls production of 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Iraq and 50,000 barrels in Syria.

By selling the oil on the black market at a discounted price of $40 per barrel (compared to about $93 per barrel in the free market), ISIS takes in $3.2 million a day.

This amounts to nearly $100 million each month allowing ISIS to, as Heritage expert James Phillips explains, have a “solid economic base that sustains its continued expansion.” In order to succeed in destroying ISIS, the U.S. and its allies need to work “intently on cutting the oil revenues that make up a large portion of that funding,” Phillips concludes.

Do you think the President Obama’s top priority in stopping ISIS should be to cut its cash flow from the oil production?

Remembering September 11 and our American Heritage

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In Other Work of Note

Over the last couple weeks, millions of incoming freshmen students have stepped foot into university classrooms for the first time. It’s hard to imagine that just 13 years ago in the fall of 2001 these same young people were just beginning elementary school. For many of them, 9/11 is nothing more than a vague memory, yet it would be hard to overstate the impact this event had on their most formative years.

These children don’t remember a world without Osama Bin Laden or al-Qaeda – a world without the hateful threat of terrorism floating darkly over their heads. They grew up during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said goodbye as their older siblings went off to war. They came of age in a time of severe economic recession and watched as their fathers and mothers struggled to find work.

But despite having every reason to doubt our capabilities, to be wary of our enemies and to throw up their hands and settle for less, the youth of today are determined to build a strong, rich, independent America. They know that the American capacity for hard-work will keep this land prosperous. They know that the fierce independence that burns in our hearts will keep it free. And most importantly, they know and can rest assured that at its core America was founded on an idea that this is a land of liberty where every man can make for himself and his family the life they desire. One of our experts, Matthew Spalding, wrote:

Every nation derives meaning and purpose from some unifying quality—an ethnic character, a common religion, a shared history. The United States is different. America was founded at a particular time, by a particular people, on the basis of particular principles about man, liberty, and constitutional government.

Today the aptly named Freedom Tower in New York City stands 1,776 feet tall – a visual monument to our ability to pick ourselves up and struggle for even greater heights. Americans have shown over and over again that we will never give up and never surrender and certainly never cease striving to preserve our heritage of liberty. We truly are an exceptional country.

May God always bless America.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened May 21 to the public in New York City.

No Easy Fixes in Iraq, But Action Is Necessary Nonetheless

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In Heritage Work

Iraq is a mess. Caught between sectarian friction and open conflict with ISIS, Iraq is in need of serious support. But how can the U.S. help? And how much of a threat is ISIS? What will be Iraq’s future?

At a recent Heritage Foundation event, these questions were specifically addressed. The event, moderated by Heritage fellow Peter Brookes, brought together some of the top experts on military affairs and the Middle East, including Heritage’s Steve Bucci, Stephen J. Hadley, and Mary Habeck. Continue Reading »

How Heritage Is Leading the Way on Ukraine, Israel, and Illegal Immigration

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In Heritage Work

President Obama’s misguided leadership on the world stage is taking a very real toll. And the Heritage Foundation is educating lawmakers and the American people on the facts.

Just yesterday, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down by a missile over Eastern Ukraine. The White House suspects that Russian rebels–supplied by Vladimir Putin’s government despite the administration’s “reset”–shot down the plane. To help guide the debate over next steps, Heritage experts posted an analysis of the events and what may have caused them on The Daily Signal. Heritage’s Peter Brookes discussed the outrageous incident on CNBC, and other experts are scheduled to appear this weekend on other national TV outlets.

In Israel, Hamas militants have launched another series of indiscriminate missile attacks on Israeli civilians. Israel has responded with targeted attacks on Hamas militants. Heritage’s Steve Bucci explains the moral difference between Hamas and Israel. Michaela Dodge answers your questions about the Iron Dome program that defends Israel from Hamas rockets. And James Phillips warns that “the eruption of the third Gaza war since 2008 is yet another manifestation of the growing threat posed by Islamist militants within an increasingly unstable Middle East. “

Closer to home, our borders are being assaulted by illegal immigrants. The most recent wave of young people from Latin America appears directly inspired by President Obama’s unilateral promise of amnesty to minors. Immigration is one of The Heritage Foundation’s priority issues, and experts have been working to expose the flaws in the administration’s plans and to propose a conservative alternative that secures the border and upholds the rule of law.

Heritage Vice President James Carafano points out that only Heritage is able to provide this kind of in-depth analysis on so many issues at once. “No other think tank is handling all these issues at the depth we are on the Hill and the media all at the same time,” he said.

Do you think these policy events can be linked to the Obama administration’s policies?

Once Again, the Liberal Media Is Unfairly Characterizing Conservatives

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In Other Work of Note

An event about the Benghazi attacks held at The Heritage Foundation on Monday sparked intense, but respectful, debate about the 2012 terrorist assault on the American consulate that left four dead.

But once again, the liberal media took the opportunity to unfairly characterize conservatives. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank completely misrepresented what happened during a question-and-answer session during the event. He said the panelists rudely “attacked” and “pounced” on the questioner.

Milbank’s account was so incredible that others in the media leapt to Heritage’s defense. Politico, for example, pointed out that the video shows the panelists not mocking the questioner but thanking her. The facts just don’t support Milbank’s wild claims.

Watch video of the Q&A and see for yourself:

It’s precisely because the mainstream media has such bias that The Heritage Foundation started the Daily Signal: to expose the truth about what’s happening in America.

What the Obama Administration Should Be Doing to Combat Al-Qaeda in Iraq

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In Heritage Work

Photo: NewsCom

The resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, can be blamed on the lack of US-Iraqi cooperation, Heritage’s James Phillips reports.

“The abrupt U.S. military exit greatly weakened Iraqi counterterrorism, intelligence gathering, and special-operations capabilities, allowing Al-Qaeda to revive in a more permissive environment,” he argues.

To combat terrorism, Phillips recommends that the Obama administration:

  1. Provide arms and assistance to help Iraq defeat ISIS; and
  2. Press Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to reconcile with Iraq’s Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders; and
  3. Normalize relations with Iraq’s Kurdish political parties.

Read more about his recommendations here.

What do you think the Obama administration should do to combat terrorism in Iraq?

Did the CIA Cherry-Pick Benghazi Intelligence for Political Reasons?

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In Heritage Work

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Heritage Foundation expert Helle Dale reports on compelling new details about the Obama administration’s manipulation of the facts about the attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya:

The original CIA talking points on Benghazi were quite comprehensive and included information on al-Qaeda activity in the Benghazi area. In the interagency vetting process, however, this paragraph raised red flags at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, which had failed miserably at providing adequate protection against terrorists for U.S. diplomats stationed in Libya. Morell took it upon himself to edit out any reference to al-Qaeda, and blamed the attack on an anti-American demonstration. The remainder of the talking points was toothless pabulum.

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