Switching Places: New Threats from the Islamic State and Nusra Front

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Over the past few weeks, the insurgent threat from al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s (AQ) affiliate in Syria has grown, even as actions by the Iraqi government, Kurdish forces, and tribal fighters have significantly reduced the territory controlled by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. The result is that the two fighting groups seem to be changing places in the size and scope of the military threat they present to the region. Meanwhile, the announcement by IS members that the group has built a “dirty bomb” and smuggled it into Europe creates the possibility that IS now presents as great a terrorist danger as the “imminent threat” posed by AQ’s Khorasan Group.

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The U.S. Campaign in Syria and Iraq: A High Learning Curve

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The U.S. is currently in its third month of its strategy to "disrupt and eliminate" the Islamic State. President Obama proclaimed from the outset that the United States would not commit ground troops to the conflict, but would instead conduct a calculated bombing campaign against the Islamic State (IS) and both train and arm designated rebel groups fighting against IS. Currently, the U.S. strategy is revealing some weaknesses.

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A Contrarian View: Has the Islamic State Peaked?

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Having spent several posts discussing the threat offered by the Islamic State (IS), it seems appropriate to balance these views with a look at the signs that suggest the group is facing difficulties in its attempts to expand further.

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U.S. Strategy against the Islamic State and Nusra Front: A Reconsideration

 

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The decision by the U.S. government to double the number of American forces in Iraq suggests that the current strategy against the extremists is not working.  The U.S. has carried out numerous airstrikes and is lending support to the Kurds, moderate Syrian rebels, the Iraqi government, and anti-Islamic State (IS) tribal forces, but this has not stopped IS or al-Qaeda’s (AQ) affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN or al-Nusra Front), helped the situation in Syria or Iraq, or ended the threat to the homeland. The persistence of these challenges in the face of U.S. action might require a reconsideration of the level of effort necessary to prevent further atrocities and stop the extremists.

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The Kassig Beheading: The Islamic State's Last-Ditch Effort to Keep US Boots Out of the Caliphate

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After a gap of almost six weeks, the Islamic State (IS) released a video yesterday showing, along with the brutal simultaneous beheading of almost two dozen Syrian pilots, the head of American citizen Peter Kassig after it was severed from his body. Standing above his head was the British executor, known as "Jihad John," who killed other American and British citizens, challenging the US to send ground troops into Iraq and Syria.

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