In his latest interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, President Obama made a head-turning statement about ISIS.
ISIS’ march across Iraq and Syria — a campaign that’s forced President Barack Obama to return small numbers of US troops to the region, even after touting an end to the decade-long ground offensives there — came as a surprise to US intelligence, the President told CNN in a new special report.
“The ability of ISIL to not just mass inside of Syria, but then to initiate major land offensives that took Mosul, for example, that was not on my intelligence radar screen,” Obama told Zakaria, using the administration’s term for the Islamic State terror group.
We fact-checked Obama’s latest claim. And it doesn’t look good for the president.
In 2014, a few months after ISIS stormed Iraq and took Mosul, we talked to Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, chairman of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, about the terror group:
Abbas had damning information about how the State Department didn’t listen to warnings from his people:
“This administration has no interest in crushing in ISIS according to our information and our data. We approached the State Department about ISIS before ISIS was in the headlines and we were ignored.”
But there’s more.
Hamody Jasim worked as a major intelligence asset for the U.S. government during the Iraq War. Former CIA Director and General David Petraeus said of Jasim, “Individuals like the Sergeant Major were very, very, valuable to us.”
Jasim didn’t hold back when we asked him about ISIS not being on “the radar”:
“Before ISIS, Al-Qaeda was in a prison protected by the U.S. military. Then, we left. The consequences were severe.
After the troops got out of Iraq, the prisoners went from a very secure facility to a high school with a window.
In 2013, about 600 Al-Qaeda and Islamic State operatives escaped from Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Every single one of them became ISIS. The idea of ISIS was established in a prison. They didn’t think they’d be free again. So they had this fantasy in their minds.
Even Abu Whaeeb, who later was a leader in ISIS, was sentenced to death. But then he was out.
ISIS got the way it is because of a political decision that was made by Obama himself. The entire Iraqi government became corrupted after we left. Most of these Al-Qaeda and Islamic State members didn’t just break out of prison, they would then go buy the judge or the detaining facility itself.”
“Obama didn’t look at the situation from the right perspective. Instead, he heeded the counsel of Iraqi Prime Minister Al Maliki, one of the most corrupt political leaders in Iraqi history.
The Iraqi military was dependent on us at the time. They were not equipped properly to handle a fight like that. Obama didn’t do his homework on the issue. And that’s what gave rise to ISIS. It wasn’t a surprise. It was definitely on the radar. There is no way that it wasn’t.
Four of the people I served with during the Iraq War who were with special operations, were killed by ISIS in Ramadi. So these guys put these terrorists in the prison, they escape — and then they came to kill them. Obama has to take some responsibility for the terribly bad call he made.”
Jasim shared the last picture he received from his four brothers-in-arms before they fell at Ramadi:
When ISIS first successfully took land in Iraq on January 3rd, 2014 — the first major city the group had under its control was Fallujah. Four days later Obama was questioned about the news, calling ISIS a “JV team.” ISIS wouldn’t take control of Mosul until five months later.
But maybe it was an intelligence failure of epic proportions. After all in 2011, CIA Director John Brennan commented on the dreams that terror groups like ISIS have:
“Our strategy is also shaped by a deeper understanding of al-Qa’ida’s goals, strategy, and tactics. I’m not talking about al-Qa’ida’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate.
That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counterterrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen.”
Now that absurd vision isn’t just behind the deaths of thousands of innocent people across the world. It continues to rule with a blood-stained fist inside the walls of every ISIS-controlled city. And it’s on everyone’s radar…