President Obama and his advisors intentionally ignored intelligence reports during the 2012 campaign about the danger posed by ISIS because it would have damaged their re-election theme, says retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Flynn also believes a Paris-type attack on America is likely in the near future.
“I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed,” Flynn said of the intelligence reports in an interview with CNN’s Jack Tapper. “And I’ll be very candid with you, they just didn’t. I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and bin Laden was dead. … They’re dead and these guys are, we’ve beaten them.”
The problem, he told CNN, was that no matter how many terrorist leaders were killed, they “continue to just multiply.”
Flynn is not the only person making allegations about the administration’s handling of ISIS. The Pentagon’s inspector general is now looking into claims that senior officials and officers are manipulating intelligence to downplay the ISIS threat, CNN reported. Some intelligence analysts told The Daily Beast that officers at the US military’s Central Command were distorting intelligence reports to make it look like American efforts to stop ISIS were more successful than they really were.
Flynn Was America’s Highest Ranking Military Intelligence Officer
“There were all kinds of strategic and tactical warnings and lots of reporting,” Flynn said of the intelligence about ISIS in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. “And even the guys in the Islamic State said that they were going to attack overseas. I just don’t think people took them seriously.”
Flynn, a 30-year veteran of the US Army, was America’s highest ranking military intelligence officer when he retired. He also served as assistant director of national intelligence for President Obama and commanded US Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2004 to 2007.
He also believes ISIS will deliver a Paris-style attack to the US.
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“I really do believe it’s a matter of time, I believe, there’s going to be where our luck is going to run out and they are going to be able to achieve something along the lines of what we saw in Paris,” Flynn said.
Flynn says America’s strategy in the war on terror is not working and that US policy has actually made the situation worse. The US strategy of selectively killing leaders such as bin Laden has actually strengthened terror groups, he says.
“We used to say, ‘We’ll just keep killing the leaders, and the next guy up is not going to be as good,” Flynn told Der Spiegel. “That didn’t work out that way because al-Baghdadi is better than Zarqawi, and Zarqawi was actually better than bin Laden.”
Al-Baghdadi is a far more dangerous leader than bin Laden, Flynn says.
“Baghdadi brought himself to a mosque in Mosul and spoke from the balcony, like the pope, dressed in appropriate black garb,” Flynn said of the self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS. “He stood there as a holy cleric and proclaimed the Islamic caliphate. That was a very, very symbolic act. It elevated the fight from this sort of military, tactical and localized conflict to that of a religious and global war.”
Flynn continued, “al-Baghdadi is bringing in 1,500 fighters a month, from more than 100 nations. He’s using the modern weapons of the information age in fundamentally different ways to strengthen the attraction of their ideology.”
When asked how the US and other nations should deal with al-Baghdadi and his followers, Flynn was pretty blunt.
“The sad fact is that we have to put troops on the ground,” Flynn said, adding any strategy must involve Arab nations. “We won’t succeed against this enemy with air strikes alone. But a military solution is not the end all, be all. The overall strategy must be to take away Islamic State’s territory, then bring security and stability to facilitate the return of the refugees.”
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