WASHINGTON — Facing off in one of the most contested Senate races in the nation, Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, found something to agree on this week — giving President Barack Obama the authority he’s asked for to train and arm Syrian rebels taking on brutal Islamic State militants. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama’s expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — The White House said Sunday it will find countries willing to send combat troops to fight Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, but it’s too early to identify them.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough signaled that the State Department in coming days will name allies that will pledge ground troops to fight the Islamic State group, something the United States does not plan to do. Meantime, McDonough said, U.S. personnel will train and equip Iraqi forces and moderate Syrian rebels to combat the extremist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the United States will ramp up air strikes and try to build an international coalition to degrade and eventually destroy the group. The Islamic State group released a video late Saturday showing a militant beheading a British aid worker. It was similar to recent beheadings of two American journalists. READ MORE
WASHINGTON — Islamic State militants, who once relied on wealthy Persian Gulf donors for money, have become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to U.S. intelligence officials and private experts.
The extremist group’s resources exceed that “of any other terrorist group in history,” said a U.S. intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments. Such riches are one reason that American officials are so concerned about the group even while acknowledging they have no evidence it is plotting attacks against the United States.
The Islamic State group has taken over large sections of Syria and Iraq, and controls as many as 11 oil fields in both countries, analysts say. It is selling oil and other goods through generations-old smuggling networks under the noses of some of the same governments it is fighting: Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.
While U.S. intelligence does not assess that those governments are complicit in the smuggling, the Obama administration is pressing them do to more to crack down. The illicit oil is generally transported on tanker trucks, analysts said. READ MORE
Islamic State militants released a video on Saturday which purports to show the beheading of British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines, the Associated Press reports.
WASHINGTON — While the Islamic State group is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria – a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe – poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.
But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.
In an interview with the PBS NewsHour on Friday, President Clinton signaled that he is in full support of President Obama’s plan to degrade and destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but he cautioned, “Essentially it’s an away game, and we need to be back on a home team.” Continue reading
ANKARA, Turkey — The United States on Friday pressed Turkey to harden its borders against fighters and funding flowing to the Islamic State militant group, and sought clarity on how far Ankara is willing to go to help a worldwide coalition destroy the insurgent threat. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush’s administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress. His idea died in committee. Continue reading
U.S. officials say retired Marine Gen. John Allen will coordinate the broad international effort to battle the Islamic State group, as nations begin to determine what part each will play. Continue reading