Is ISIS winning? They’re certainly a growing threat to Jordan & Israel as they steadily gain ground in Iraq and Syria.

The cover of the June 2nd issue of Newsweek.

The cover of the June 2nd issue of Newsweek.

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — Is ISIS winning?

A growing number of analysts say the forces of the Islamic State are succeeding in their bid to establish a caliphate or kingdom in the heart of the modern Middle East.

  • ISIS is steadily gaining vital territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
  • They are steadily recruiting more jihadists.
  • They are continuing to rape, pillage, persecute and behead Muslims, Christians and “infidels” of all stripes.
  • And they are doing so despite nine months of empty rhetoric from President Obama and half-hearted allied airstrikes against them.

In May, ISIS forces captured the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, despite being outnumbered by Iraqi military troops, many of whom ended up fleeing rather than fighting. This puts ISIS just 70 miles or so from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. But it also helps consolidate ISIS control of a vast Sunni province on the border with the Jordan.

Will ISIS soon try to attack Jordan? Will the forces of the Islamic State try to bring down King Abdullah II and his Hashemite Kingdom? Will they try to set up a new jihadist base from which to attack Israel, the United States and our allies in the Middle East and Europe? Do they have access to chemical weapons they could use to launch genocidal attacks?

These are questions I raised in my recent novel, The Third Target, which was released in January. But as the months tick by, such matters seem less the stuff of fiction and more the subject of real life intelligence and policy deliberations at the highest levels of government. Consider these recent headlines:

“It has been nine months since President Barack Obama set forth a policy—“degrade and destroy”—for dealing with the Islamic State (ISIS), the radical group that emerged as the successor to Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” begins a Newsweek cover story. “In that time, despite daily airstrikes, an increased tempo of training Iraqi troops and a wobbly coalition of 60 nations trying to combat ISIS, the group has made steady gains in both Iraq and Syria: It not only still controls the city of Mosul, on May 17, it routed Iraqi troops in the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, about 70 miles from Baghdad. In Syria it took the strategic city of Palmyra. It has extended its reach into Libya and conducted its first terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, blowing up a Shiite mosque in the eastern city of Qatif. Far from being degraded, the group Obama once infamously derided as ‘the jayvee’ appears in the eyes of many, to be on the march. If the question is, ‘Is ISIS winning?’ the answer, for now, appears undeniable: Yes.”

At present, I am editing the manuscript for my next novel, the sequel to The Third Target. But even as I play out this fictional scenario, I am praying that the American government and her allies get truly serious about developing and executing a comprehensive and effective strategy to stop the ISIS advance defeat ISIS all together. Watching so many Muslims and Christians in the region be persecuted, tortured, enslaved and killed while the world’s leaders dither, vacillate and demonstrate ineptitude is far too painful to bear.


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