WASHINGTON – Beyond Iraq, what is the intent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?
There appears to be short- and long-term goals, with a hint of those intentions in the name ISIS has chosen for itself.
Its real name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, meaning Greater Syria.
ISIS, morphing from the Islamic State of Iraq before it was excommunicated from al-Qaida central in Pakistan last year for its extreme Wahhabi brutality, appears to have intentions of re-creating Greater Syria into an Islamic caliphate, subject to strict Shariah law.
Historically, Greater Syria, corresponding to Greater Assyria, included all of the Levant and Mesopotamia, or modern-day Iraq.
The Levant incorporates the Eastern Mediterranean countries of Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, parts of Turkey and northeast Africa, including the Sinai Peninsula.
Already, the terror group’s lightning attacks span from northeast Syria into western and central Iraq. It is knocking on Baghdad’s door and could potentially head further south to take over those oil refineries that provide oil to the world.
At that end, there’s also Sunni Kuwait, which deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein once referred to as Iraq’s 13th province as justification for invading the country.
At the same time, there’s concern that ISIS will move into Jordan where there is major dissatisfaction of the reign of King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein. The king’s concerns are so great that he has requested U.S. military assistance to prevent it from becoming part of ISIS’ Islamist caliphate.
There are reports that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, already is meeting with his war planners to determine what it will do beyond Syria and Iraq.
According to informed sources, al-Baghdadi’s top director of operations in ISIS’ blitzkrieg from Syria and now into Iraq is Al Nasir Li Din Allah Abu Sulayman.
He is described as a behind-the-scenes jihadist who shuns publicity. According to Long War Journal, Abu Sulayman is regarded as ISIS’ war minister. LWJ said that “Al Nasir Li Din Allah” is an honorific term meaning “The Victor of the Religion of God.”
According to sources, Abu Sulayman’s real name is Neaman Salman Mansour al-Zaidi. He may be Moroccan with Syrian citizenship.
Sources say that after Iraq, ISIS may focus on Jordan, which shares borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easy to invade the country.
ISIS already has publicly called for the execution of Jordan’s King Abdullah, blasting him as an infidel and apostate.
A recent ISIS YouTube threatened to “slaughter” the king. Many of those appearing in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and promised to launch suicide attacks inside Jordan.
Beyond Jordan and the immediate Greater Syria region, there is concern among security experts that ISIS’ success will spawn spinoff groups similar to it in other countries.
That’s because ISIS’ rapid successes have inspired other jihadist groups to join its bandwagon and attract new recruits from young, unemployed youth in those countries, numbers of which are massive.
It certainly would be the case in Lebanon where WND recently visited as unemployed Syrians escaping the civil war next door looked for means to survive alongside Palestinians in their camps where unemployment is said to be 90 percent.
With its initial success in Syria and now Iraq, there also is concern among the Gulf Arab countries of not only Kuwait but also Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that ISIS will take root in those locations.
Al-Qaida is strong in the Arabian Peninsula, with AQAP based in Yemen. Any ISIS initiative in areas al-Qaida is located could pose problems for al-Baghdadi, who openly split with al-Qaida central leader al-Zawahiri.
But given al-Baghdadi’s accomplishments, ISIS has become very attractive, with many jihadist groups as seen in Iraq joining his group.
Sources believe there also is the prospect that ISIS spinoffs would develop and threaten countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well.
“ISIS is a threat not only to moderate Arabs and Muslims, but also to Israel, which the terrorists say is their ultimate destination,” according to regional expert Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute.
“The U.S. and its Western allies need to wake up quickly and take the necessary measures to prevent the Islamist terrorists from achieving their goal,” he said.
Beyond the region, what other goal does ISIS have?
An indication of that comes from Army Col. Kenneth King, who was commanding officer at Camp Bucca in Iraq where Al-Baghdadi was in a U.S. custody.
Upon his release through what observers say was under a general amnesty, King said that al-Baghdadi said, “I’ll see you guys in New York.”
King was with the 306 Military Police Battalion, a reserve unit from Long Island. The unit also included a number of members from the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York. The camp itself was named after FDNY Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca who was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Already, security experts are taking seriously what King initially thought was a joke, until he realized what al-Baghdadi has done as the head of ISIS sweeping through Iraq.
“I’m not surprised that it was someone who spent time in Bucca but I’m a little surprised it was him,” King said. “He was a bad dude, but he wasn’t the worst of the worst.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPD already are taking al-Baghdadi’s threats seriously.
“This guys on the move,” according to former FBI agent Manny Gomez. “He’s only gaining strength. He’s gaining more resources vis-à-vis weaponry, intelligence backing. His numbers are growing. His financial strength is growing Success breeds success and this guy, unfortunately for us, has been very successful.”
With that said, however, it isn’t clear when al-Baghdadi would be a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.
Former Acting Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Morell said it may be at least a year before ISIS poses a serious threat to the U.S.
However, he said the threat could be sooner if the U.S. offered direct assistance to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
For now, he said, al-Baghdadi is targeting the Iraqi government.
All of this raises the question whether the United States needs to get involved militarily to stop ISIS’ efforts to take over all of Iraq.
Given that ISIS’ actions beyond Iraq would threaten U.S. and Western strategic interests in the region if it goes beyond Iraq, it raises the question whether this forward motion needs to be stopped now, or later when it will be more difficult.