Paris attacks prompt ISIS reevaluation

Paris attacks prompt ISIS reevaluation
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President Obama ruled out sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria on Monday, rejecting criticisms that his counter-terrorism strategy has proven to be a failure.

“It’s important for us to get the strategy right, and the strategy that we are pursuing is the right one,” Obama insisted at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit of global leaders in Antalya, Turkey, where a response to the terrorist attacks on Paris quickly overshadowed other discussions.

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The fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatens to subsume Obama’s final year in office — as well as the debate to succeed him — following Friday’s deadly attack in Paris.

The terrorist group released a new video on Monday warning that Washington, D.C., is among its next targets — underlining its intent to export a war of terror.

“You will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before,” a man dressed in fatigues and a turban said in the video.

ISIS proclaimed to have built a caliphate last summer, and for months was considered limited to a narrow band around Iraq and Syria.

But Friday’s attacks on Paris that resulted in the deaths of 129 people through coordinated strikes on restaurants, a music hall and a soccer stadium signaled a change in the group’s approach and sounded the starting gun on a renewed global effort to strike back.

It also bolstered criticisms of Obama’s fight against ISIS, which Republicans and some Democrats have argued is insufficient. Critics point to Obama’s past comments describing ISIS as a junior varsity terror organization, as well as his claim just a day before the Paris attacks that the group had been “contained.”

“I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained, ISIL is expanding,” Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said Monday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” using another common acronym for the terror group.

“They just put out a video saying it is their intent to attack this country,” added Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who pronounced herself more concerned than ever about the group.

“President Obama stands alone in his commitment to a failed strategy,” asserted Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump rips Bill Maher as 'exhausted, gaunt and weak' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence Sarah Palin offers Harris advice: 'Don't get muzzled' MORE (R-Ariz.), the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In every public appearance since Friday’s attacks, Obama has underlined his intent to work with France and other allies in combating ISIS.

Military leaders in the U.S. and Europe have signaled more robust airstrikes against ISIS, starting with a Sunday blitz by France against the group’s de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa. On Monday, the U.S.-led coalition against the group launched 10 airstrikes that destroyed more than 100 ISIS fuel trucks.

“On the military front, we are continuing to accelerate what we do,” Obama said in his press conference on Monday. “As we find additional partners on the ground that are effective, we work with them more closely.”

The Pentagon also announced that it was ramping up intelligence sharing with France to the “fullest extent allowed by existing law and policy,” according to press secretary Peter Cook.

In France and Belgium — where the plot was believed to have been hatched — police arrested scores of suspected radicals and searched for signs of another man believed to have been the mastermind of Friday’s violence as well as a failed plot in January. The Belgium-born man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is believed to have traveled back and forth between Europe and Syria, underscoring national security officials’ repeated concerns about the flow of foreign fighters to and from the Middle East. 

Friday’s attack in Paris followed the deaths of 42 people in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon; 224 people on a Russian plane that exploded over the Egyptian desert; and 128 at a rally in Ankara, Turkey. Officials have agreed that all four attacks bear the “hallmarks” of ISIS, though it remains unclear as to what degree they were directed by the group itself.

Together, the string of attacks is a sign that the group’s largely regional focus is beginning to change, national security officials and analysts warn.

“It is clear to me that ISIL has an external agenda, that they are determined to carry out these kinds of attacks,” CIA Director John Brennan told a packed crowd at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday morning.

“I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIL has in the pipeline,” he added. “Security intelligence services right now in Europe and other places are working feverishly to see what they can do in terms of uncovering it.”