In new signs that France has taken their “pitiless” war against ISIS more seriously after the Mumbai-style attack on Paris, the government has used its state of emergency to conduct 170 raids across the country. More than 100 suspects have been rounded up and held under emergency powers, while French and other European authorities try to track down others involved in the November 13 plot against Paris:
The Washington Post updates readers on the raids, and the manhunt:
The intense manhunt for the possible lead plotter — identified as Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud — came as clearer portraits emerged of the network behind Friday’s carnage that left at 132 people dead and scores wounded.
In Brussels, police sealed off the streets in the Molenbeek neighborhood as the dragnet appeared to tighten in the area. But there were no immediate reports on arrests.
Meanwhile, another top suspect was sought: a lone assailant who could have slipped away in the chaos after the gunfire and bombings.
According to the BBC, Belgian police ended the operation without finding Abaaoud or making any other arrests.
France continued its raids on Raqqa, although they may be of somewhat lower intensity than first assumed. Their pilots have flown ten sorties and dropped 20 bombs, according to news reports today, which have done significant damage. According to the Post, electricity has been knocked out to the de facto capital of ISIS, but also a soccer stadium and a museum, with not much said about command-and-control damage, which is what matters. However, the French military presence in the region is nowhere near as extensive as ours, and this may be the highest intensity they can achieve, at least for a while.
Of more note, Iraq’s Foreign Minister issued a statement that said his government had warned France of an imminent attack — and the US and Iran as well:
In Iraq on Sunday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari said Iraqi intelligence had obtained information before the Paris attacks that the Islamic State was planning an imminent terrorist strike overseas that may have been aimed “in particular” at France, the United States and Iran.
“We notified these countries and warned them,” Jafari said in a statement, which did not include specifics of when the Iraqis acquired the information. U.S. intelligence officials did not confirm the report.
That seems interesting, considering the US’ position during and after the Paris massacre that there was no credible threat directed here. The Post reports that the Obama administration has decided not to change its approach now, either:
Administration officials said the United States would not alter its strategy against the Islamic State in response to the Paris attacks, despite evidence that the terrorist group was expanding its ability to hit Western targets. In recent weeks, Obama has approved the escalation of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq and has authorized the deployment of 50 Special Operations troops to assist Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces pushing toward Raqqa.
Officials said that, in response to the attacks in Paris, the administration was seeking renewed global commitment to that intensified military action, and to a negotiated settlement of Syria’s civil war.
All of this sounds familiar to Andrew Malcolm:
Eager to claim some credit, Obama administration officials leaked word they’d provided the ISIS target intelligence to France. That leak backfired, however.
If the U.S. had such ample target intelligence, why hadn’t American planes already attacked them? That likely fuels the growing Washington controversy over Obama’s ineffective “strategy” to “degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.”
In a Friday interview with ABC News, Obama talked less about defeating ISIS and more about “constraining” the terror army. Asked about ISIS power, Obama said, “I don’t think they’re gaining strength…We have contained them.”
Hours later in coordinated incidents, Paris was rocked by eight separate ISIS terrorist attacks killing more than 130 people, the largest death toll there since World War II. That was just the latest of Obama’s silly statements on terror that display more his wishful or delusional hopes than reality.
Remember how al Qaeda was on the run in 2012? There was no global war on terror, Obama claimed. How Obama mocked Mitt Romney for seeing Russia as a strategic opponent. The counter-terrorism success story Obama hailed in Yemen, just months before its government fell to rebels and the U.S. lost a half-billion dollars in military equipment.
Nearly two years ago Obama dismissed ISIS as a “JV” team. Six months later he admitted he had no strategy to combat the rampaging terrorists shooting, torturing, crucifying, beheading and incinerating thousands of Muslims and Christians in Syria and Iraq. Last spring Obama declared the U.S. was winning against ISIS.
Be sure to read it all. The French may be taking the war more seriously after Paris. We aren’t.