On Monday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the bizarre claim that the Americans who returned to the United States after traveling to the Middle East to participate in the conflict involving ISIS represented no threat to American national security. He insisted that many Americans who made the trek to the region have done so for humanitarian purposes or to join nationalist or secular groups, and not necessarily to fight alongside ISIS or the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front.
While public sources suggest that the vast majority of the 150 to 180 Americans who have traveled to Syria or Iraq do so in order to join ISIS’s ranks (approximately 80 percent), presumably Clapper has access to better intelligence. He indicated that the 40 or so U.S. citizens who have returned from the region after taking part in that conflict represent no threat to their fellow Americans.
Maybe what Clapper meant to say is that those who do represent a threat to American national security have helpfully neutralized themselves by acting as suicide bombers in the service of the Islamic State.
“Tuesday a U.S. citizen carried out a suicide attack against Iraqi forces involved in an operation to retake the jihadi-held city of Tikrit,” AFP reported.
“The brother Abu Dawud al-Amriki (may Allah accept him) launched himself with his explosives-laden truck against a gathering” of Iraqi forces and militiamen, an ISIS radio bulletin said.
The report gave no details on the man’s identity.
It claimed that dozens of Iraqi forces were killed and wounded in the blast, but did not provide further details, such as pictures or footage.
There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from other sources.
Last week, CNN published an investigative report on ISIS’s recruitment efforts that are designed to lure Americans to the region to join in the fight to expand the nascent caliphate in Iraq and Syria. That effort is bearing fruit.
On Wednesday, three men from New York — Abdurasul Juraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — were arrested and charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. An unsealed criminal complaint accused one of the men of discussing a potential attempt to assassinate President Barack Obama. One had discussed hijacking a flight and handing it over to ISIS, the complaint said.
Four women from Colorado have been accused of attempting to join ISIS. Three Denver teenagers, who investigators say were recruited via social media, were stopped in Germany last October and sent back to the United States. After being arrested in spring 2014, Shannon Maureen Conley was one of the first Americans sentenced for conspiracy to support ISIS.
Two men who have appeared in horrific ISIS propaganda videos could be from the United States or Canada, according to analysts. The individuals — both of whom are shown wearing masks covering everything but their eyes — spoke in what sounded like North American accents. One was in a video entitled “Flames of War,” which shows the execution of a handful of men. The other militant is the speaker in ISIS’ first propaganda video out of Libya, which ends with the graphic beheading of more than a dozen Egyptian Christians.
The Brooklyn-based men who were arrested after expressing interest in joining ISIS also pledged their intention to serve as “martyrs” for the cause inside the United States and lamented thier inability to access small arms. According to FBI Director James Comey, the bureau is monitoring prospective Islamist militants at various stages of radicalization in all 50 U.S. states.
Or, you could just trust James Clapper and believe that there is nothing to see here.