Not long ago in Afghanistan, US forces staged an air raid on a regional meeting of Taliban unit commanders. It was touted as a huge success. Between 50 and 70 mid- to senior-level Taliban fighters were reported killed.
Asked if the scale of the Taliban’s losses had strategic significance, Gen. John Nicholson said, no. It might put a crimp into Taliban maneuvers in Southern Afghanistan, but no more than that. Both the Islamist factions, the Taliban and the Islamic State still had both the means and the will to keep Afghanistan in a state of war.
The series of expulsions of Islamic State forces and governance from Ramadi and Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Tal Afar and Raqqa might seem the very opposite of the one night bomb and run attack in Musa Qala, but in a very real sense they shared this same quality: neither wiping out several dozen Taliban officers, nor recapturing a whole string of Iraqi and Syrian cities is a show-stopper.
Though badly weakened and now widely dispersed, Islamic State fighters still menace parts of Syria and Iraq, and, as potential lone wolves or sleeper cells threaten dozens of places they’re hiding out it. Meanwhile, their Islamist colleagues have been stepping up their attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Chad and Niger, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and the Philippines.
We’re racking up short-term wins against IS, Al Qaeda, AQAP, AQIM, and Al Shabaab, but seem no closer to the Trump Administration’s proclaimed long-term “annihilation” of Islamist terror groups than we were 2 years ago.
Our guest today, David Eneboe is former US intelligence operator who spent 13 years in the Mideast, North Africa and Europe, tracking, translating and analyzing terrorists and their words and deeds. He says the key reason for our limited success against Islamism is our faulty focus — on eradicating terrorists rather than the concepts that motivate them. As he puts it in the title of his recent book: IT’S THE IDEOLOGY: HOW TO DEFEAT ISLAMIST TERRORISM ONCE AND FOR ALL.
David Eneboe is a veteran intelligence community professional with over four decades of experience with Middle Eastern crises ranging from the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1976 to the threat of ISIS and Islamist terrorism today – and every major event and terrorist incident in between. During his career Mr. Eneboe has served as a linguist, analyst, and collector who has received numerous personal commendations from senior intelligence officials. With 13 years of service abroad in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, he is thoroughly familiar with the Arabic language and culture, the traditions and beliefs of orthodox Islam, and the nihilistic and poisonous ideology of Islamism. Mr. Eneboe currently owns and operates a small, private consulting firm.