Thousands of foreign recruits continue to pour into ISIS-controlled territory in the Levant, adding to ISIS's numbers and strength. An estimated 3,000 additional recruits have arrived from Europe in just the last six months--a 60 percent increase.
In yet another reminder of the depths to which ISIS will sink to enlarge their self-declared caliphate, credible reports have emerged that ISIS is exploiting racial divisions and stepping up its recruiting efforts from African-American Muslims following the Baltimore riots.
Already the de facto government in much of Libya, ISIS now is eyeing Tunisia, the thumb-shaped nation that juts into the Mediterranean and towards Europe. The birthplace and inspiration of the recent "Arab Spring" may become yet another geopolitical casualty to ISIS, which preys upon nations shattered by civil war and governmental breakdown.
Retired U.S. Generals Michael T. Flynn and James E. Livingston (the latter also a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor) offer a scathing indictment of the Obama administration's "naive" mishandling of Middle East policy and the rapid surge of ISIS. They also lay out how al-Qaeda was the "progenitor" of ISIS.
As the number of Americans arrested for trying to join ISIS surges, we are prompted to ask how ISIS has managed, in such a short time, to eclipse al-Qaeda in recruiting would-be soldiers from the West. ISIS has combined PR savvy with battlefield successes to woo a surging list of new applicants from the U.S. The full extent of this chilling domestic threat has not yet been fully determined--or, most likely, felt.
Support for ISIS in Turkey, which neighbors Syria and Iraq, is not yet widespread. But should it grow, ISIS would gain key advantages from a neighboring state on the outskirts of Europe.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's entry into the presidential race will, among other things, ensure foreign policy and ISIS's emergence during her tenure will be front and center through the 2016 elections.
From the latest videotaped executions of Christians (this time, Ethiopians spirited onto the shores of ISIS-controlled Libya), to the open vow of Nigerian ISIS leaders to exterminate Christians from that beleaguered nation, ISIS is blatant in its goal of eradicating Christianity wherever it can. The response from the West has been modest at best. Why? Largely because many elite institutions in America and Europe share the same goal of effacing Christianity, if through less bloody means. For more background on this double threat to Christianity, read "Pincers."
The April 18 mass bombing in Afghanistan, the original homeland of al-Qaeda, is being blamed on ISIS by the nation's president. A suicide terrorist killed 35 and wounded 125 civilians in Jalalabad as they were waiting for pay checks. If done by ISIS, this event will mark the group's return in earnest to Afghanistan, the cradle of the worst atrocities of al-Qaeda and radical Islam.
Some 20 Australians have died fighting for ISIS. The latest is a male model who turned his back on the West and its values.
As ISIS assaults and displaces communities of Christians known as Assyrians, they are also endangering the survival of the language they speak, Aramaic. This ancient tongue was the language of Jesus Christ, and may yet become another casualty of ISIS's rampage through the Middle East.
The key Iraqi city of Ramadi may be the next to fall to ISIS. This development conflicts with previous claims by Iraqi officials that ISIS was being pushed back in the war-torn country.
Rand Paul's entry into the 2016 presidential campaign adds energy, ideological diversity and a dissenting take on foreign policy to the mix.
Whatever one thinks of President Obama and his policies, the most recent ISIS provocation--a cartoon depicting the beheading of Obama--speaks to and reinforces the group's barbarism. It also shows ISIS's double standards. The cartoon and their flouting of it contrasts sharply with radical Islam's outrage at the cartoons featured in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. If a picture is worth a thousand words, one that captures such blatant hypocrisy is worth at least twice that.
Continuing their war on antiquity and civilization itself, ISIS forces in Iraq have laid waste to Nimrud, an Assyrian city dating back to the thirteenth century B.C. A video of the destruction shows ISIS militants using sledgehammers, jackhammers and saws to obliterate Assyrian art and cultural artifacts.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood of California's Kern County is earning a national profile for doing what he can to secure America's open southern border. In this fight, nothing less than our basic national security and sovereignty are at stake.
In the same week that news broke of suspected Russian cyber-attacks on the White House and the State Department, ISIS has followed suit in Europe. Individuals affiliated with ISIS boasted they had taken over a French TV network, disrupting its broadcasts and hacking into its websites and Facebook page. French officials and media leaders are conferring to deal with a future in which such tactics may well become standard fare.
ISIS fighters have pressed to within three miles of the presidential palace of Syrian ruler Bashad al-Assad. This is ISIS's latest success in their push into the heart of Syria's capital, Damascus.
Demonstrating once again the relative media savvy of its leadership, ISIS has broadened its public-relations activities to include English updates on its radio network. This decision is consistent with ISIS's strategic use of the media for its purposes, including its active role on social media.
Rachel Alexander, senior editor at The Stream, has written an article on the politics of open borders that is well worth reading. It is important to note that open borders and ISIS are an inextricably linked national security threat--not to mention the threat to national sovereignty posed by unabated illegal immigration.
Starting next week, Stars & Banners will expand its scope to include discussion of illegal immigration and border security and the presidential campaign season. Both topics are inextricably linked to the ISIS threat and national security in general. Both will add fresh new angles to a discussion of this mounting challenge to America's future.
Thank you for being a part of our conversation.
Andrew Thomas, Founder & Editor, Stars & Banners
A "blood moon" (lunar eclipse) is to fall on both Easter Vigil and Passover. This will be the third of 4 lunar eclipses to fall in a short, 18-month period. This is both rare and remarkable.
Whatever its meaning, the celestial event makes one think as we see evil on the march throughout the world. ISIS is at the forefront of these malignant events. From the east edge of Asia to the northern mountains of Iraq to subsaharan African, ISIS is a real and growing threat.
Yet Easter is a reminder of what stands against ISIS. This season is a time of hope and of joy and of peace. Evil ultimately will be crushed. It remains to us to do our part to arrest its spread, to oppose it constantly, and to hasten the day when it is brought to an end.