More than a dozen Islamic State fighters from Iraq and Syria—some with direct ties to the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—are now in Libya, according to US and European sources.
And the US has no authority to take them out.
The nation’s most senior intelligence officer, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Libya is not only a safe haven for ISIS but at least six other terror groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, which paraded police vehicles through Benghazi last month.
State’s Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf repeated State’s (and so President Barack Obama’s) position on the matter, insisting that this is not the fault of our foreign policy.
Are we happy with the situation in Libya from a governance and security perspective? No. Absolutely not. At the end of the day, though, this is not just a line, it’s true. This is ultimately up to the Libyan people, leaders in Libya to take the security of their country into their own hands and try to move it in a better direction with our help, the UN and others’ help as well.
This is a misreading of the situation. These Daesh members (and with direct ties to…Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they’re Daesh leaders themselves) also are threats to our own national security, as are those other terrorist groups present—and not only to us, but to our friends and allies, also. From that, two consequences result directly.
The first is that, most assuredly, the situation in Libya is Libya’s to answer first, and we should do all we can to help Libya in that regard if they ask.
The second consequence, and from our national safety perspective the more important one, is that if Libya is unable or unwilling to handle the situation to our satisfaction—that is to the satisfaction of our own national security interest—then we have an obligation to ourselves, to American security, to enter and to handle the situation ourselves.
A foreign policy that is in the way of that, whether actively so or passively, very definitely is at fault, and it’s at odds with our national security.