NORTH­COM AS­SESSES ISIL

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The key threat posed by the al Qaeda off­shoot ter­ror­ist group Is­lamic State is not the in­fil­tra­tion of fighters cross­ing the U.S. south­ern bor­der but the group’s so­phis­ti­cated so­cial me­dia re­cruit­ment ef­fort.

That’s the con­clu­sion of Navy Adm. Wil­liam Gort­ney, com­man­der of the Colorado-based U.S. North­ern Com­mand, which is charged with de­fense of the home­land.

“I don’t be­lieve that it’s ISIL that we have to worry about in­fil­trat­ing through our south­ern ap­proaches,” Adm. Gort­ney told re­porters at the Pen­tagon on Tues­day, us­ing an acro­nym for the ter­ror­ist group.

“They are a threat to us be­cause they’re us­ing a very so­phis­ti­cated so­cial me­dia cam­paign to in­cite Amer­i­can and Canadian cit­i­zens to do harm against Amer­i­can and Canadian cit­i­zens,” he said. “That’s how they are try­ing to attack us in that re­gard, through that very so­phis­ti­cated so­cial me­dia cam­paign.”

In ad­di­tion to fre­quent posts seek­ing re­cruits placed on Face­book and Twit­ter, the ter­ror­ist group has launched a slick English-lan­guage mag­a­zine called Dabiq that lists email ad­dresses and an en­cryp­tion key for po­ten­tial re­cruits to con­tact the Is­lamic State.

The FBI is en­gaged in a ma­jor law en­force­ment cam­paign to stop would-be ji­hadis in the U.S. from trav­el­ing to Syria and Iraq to join the Is­lamic State.

FBI Spe­cial Agent An­drew McCabe, head of the FBI’s Wash­ing­ton field of­fice, said the bureau is strug­gling to keep up with re­lated cases, in­clud­ing seven peo­ple in the past two weeks linked to the Is­lamic State group. Other cases in­volve peo­ple in their early and mid­dle teens who want to travel over­seas.

“It’s not hard to an­tic­i­pate that, as num­bers begin to grow, at some point our tra­di­tional in­ves­tiga­tive ap­proaches and ca­pa­bil­i­ties will be out­stripped by the sheer num­bers we’re fac­ing,” Mr. McCabe told CBS News on Tues­day.

Adm. Gort­ney said the bor­der se­cu­rity prob­lem in­volves “seams” in de­fenses that enemies are ex­ploit­ing.

“And they’re go­ing to move through those seams … peo­ple, drugs, money, weapons or some­thing even greater,” he said. “And that’s why we work so hard look­ing down there and try­ing to close those seams with our home­land part­ner­ships and with the other geo­graphic com­bat­ant com­man­ders.” cheat­ing.

“Congress has the author­ity to re­quest a ver­i­fi­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment of the agree­ment from the ad­min­is­tra­tion but has not done so,” Ms. DeSut­ter told In­side the Ring.

Sen. Bob Corker, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Re­la­tions, has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would re­quire the Iran agree­ment to be sub­mit­ted to Congress.

Un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Se­nate has the power of ad­vice and con­sent on for­eign treaties and agree­ments.

Ms. DeSut­ter added that, based on the pre­lim­i­nary frame­work made public last week, ad­e­quate verification does not ap­pear pos­si­ble.

“Trans­parency mea­sures” an­nounced as part of the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion will fa­cil­i­tate vi­o­la­tions at known lo­ca­tions but not at se­cret un­de­clared sites, she said.

Fred Fleitz, an ex-CIA an­a­lyst and for­mer State Depart­ment arms con­trol of­fi­cial, also voiced con­cerns about ver­i­fy­ing Iran’s com­pli­ance with the nu­clear deal.

“I be­lieve the verification pro­vi­sions in a nu­clear agree­ment with Iran, based on the new frame­work, will fall far short of what the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion claimed last week,” Mr. Fleitz said.

“In­tru­sive in­spec­tions of Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram only ap­pear cer­tain for its peace­ful pro­gram,” he said. “In­spec­tions of pos­si­ble mil­i­tary-re­lated nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties would take place un­der the IAEA ad­di­tional pro­to­col.”

Iran has said it would adopt a limited “pro­vi­sional ap­pli­ca­tion” of an In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency pro­to­col, which Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have said is the key to strin­gent verification.

A for­mal agree­ment is to be drawn up by June 30.

“Given Iran’s record of covert nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties and ap­par­ent loop­holes in the frame­work on re­quir­ing in­spec­tions of re­ports of such ac­tiv­i­ties, I ques­tion whether an agree­ment based on the frame­work can pro­vide ad­e­quate verification to as­sure that Iran is not pur­su­ing a nu­clear weapons pro­gram,” Mr. Fleitz said.

Con­tact Bill Gertz on Twit­ter at @Bil­lGertz.

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