tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera January 31, 2016 2:30pm-3:01pm EST
of the few things that can't be stolen. virginia lopez, al jazeera, caracas. okay. aljazeera.com for all of the global headlines. and a great more besides behind the headlines as well. aljazeera.com. i'm ali velshi. on target tonight. countering i.s.i.l. how did they get so powerful so fast and what can america do to protect its people from their threat you know that a small but steady stream of muslims are hell-bent on attacking america. the san bernadino shooting was perpetrated by americans inspired by groups such as al-qaeda and i.s.i.l. after every attack americans
wonder where and when the next one will be. enforcement say domestic right wing groups are a great risk than groups radicalized over cease. the rise of i.s.i.l. has taken nation security agencies by supplies. nearly two years ago heavily armed men waving black flags swept into the iraq' town of fallugia, the same one that american soldiers fought over 10 years earlier. news reports in 2014 talked about an al-qaeda splinter group seizing the town. i.s.i.l. wasn't part of the public lexicon yet. it has carved out territory in war torn iraq and syria where it plots attacks now in the west. i.s.i.l.,isise, danger, islamic state, whatever you want to carry it, they have taken over al-qaeda as the biggest threat
in the minds of americans and that has law enforcement agencies scrambling to disrupt them in this country. 75 people have been arrested in the u.s. on charges connected to i.s.i.l. as many as 250 americanss have gone or attempted to go to join i.s.i.l. in the territory that it controls in syria and iraq. whatever the numbers, u.s. law enforcement is pursuing those suspected of having connections to i.s.i.l. for more on who they are and what threat they possess, we have this report. >> reporter: who are the faces of i.s.i.l. in america? >> he was born and we lived and this is ironic this is where he would end up dying >> reporter:
in may 2015 these people came armed with assault rifles to it an art contest in texas, mocking the prophet. he linked himself to i.s.i.l. in a tweet posted just before he and the other were killed by police >> super smart, super intelligent, all very polite, not radical in anyway >> reporter: three months later, the dourt of a policeman and her husband were-- daughter-- arrested for attempting to join i.s.i.l. in syria >> they started shooting and the people were running everywhere. >> reporter: in december in san bernadino massacred 14 of his co-workers with the aid of his wife. then three arrests later that month, a 19-year-old resident, a new york pizza aparlour owner and an
minnesota man were all charged with conspiringto join i.s.i.l. an officer the co awe tore of an enthusiasm citied,isise in america >> the f.b.i. speaks of a thousand investigations now. the level of involvement with i.s.i.s. of these individuals runs the gamut. some of them are individuals who are fascinated by the ideology. we have a few people who actually are in touch with the leadership of i.s.i.s. >> reporter: so far 21 states have had at least one arrest within their borders. new york has had the highest number of cases followed bits close by minnesota. >> you have such a varied of background, teenage girls and 40 year old men, you have graduate students and petty criminals >> reporter: according to the
study 86% of 71 people arrested for suspected ties with i.s.i.l. since march of 2014 were male. 81% of those charged with u.s. citizens. the majority 71% were not involved in plotting terrorist attacks in the u.s. they were arrested for intent to do harm overseas. but many believes the focus could change >>isise itself has sent message to its recruits in the west, including america, to stay home, to do something in their home countries. the f.b.i. have said they're seeing a decrease in numbers of individuals who want to go to syria and iraq. whether these two facts are linked it is unclear to authorities as well, but it is a pattern weave seen duglas olivent had a report. while he did not author the
report, he has insight into the eyes of i.s.i.l. a retired army officer is here as well. he joins he now from washington. thanks for being with us. this report by the new america foundation breaks down the new demographic profile of western fighters in i.s.i.l. how are those fighters different than other western militants in past conflicts? >> not significantly different, but more of them. the key difference between i.s.i.l. and the islamist extremist groups we've seen before is i.s.i.l. is dedicated to bringing about the caliphate now today and it physically exists in iraq and syria, and so that gives us certain immediacy no any thoughts of joining the jihad
to what degree are these recruits different to losers or whoever, who become white supremists in the past or gang members in the past? other than being muslim or attached to islam, are they still that same group of people who are seeking something? >> they're seeking something. their motivations are very disparate. it's like jing any high commitment organization. their purpose is very different, but not unlike joining the army or the marines. some people joining because they really, really believe in the mission. others are running away from something. others have financial motivations. others just want to do something that shocked their parents. there are some, if i.s.i.l. didn't exist, they would join some sex cult. on the other hand there are some who are dedicated a lot has been made about
social media. but much of the propaganda that is disemanated is not revolutionary but modelled on other areas. how is it that they're striking a nerve that other groups past? >> i think it really is the immediacy, that you can pick up and go join an active revolution that is happening in iraq and syria. you can pick up and go to it. we haven't seen something like that since, say, the 30s when you go and join the spanish civil war. i think that's probably not a disparate kind of things. clearly the motivations are different. you can pick up and go and join this, which is different than previous - the al-qaeda brands where it is be sympathetic with us and join the movement, and hang out and help how you can there is actually a path to doing something. the advantage of talking to you is you understand the other stuff that i've been talking about, the military efforts at pushing back.
that's one thing. that's different than this. this is about westernised people who have been born here or become citizens of western countries. much has been made about tracking americans who have travelled to syria. they're a handful compared to the jihadi networks in europe. the report goes to the threat of foreigner fighters in europe coming to these visa waiver countries. congress has been talking about this a lot. what can we be doing about that? >> it is very difficult to track, particularly if the european countries themselves don't know if these people went to one of these countries. usually that means going to turkey and sneaking over a border. very few people have joined i.s.i.l. get a syrian or iraqi visa, but it can be very, very hard to track. that's the bottom line we're now seeing the growth of not just i.s.i.l. trained fighters carrying out attacks
after returning home, but these so-called inspired terrorists, the ones who are inspired, we're not sure what degree i.s.i.l. get physically or actively involved in the inspiration, if you will. this becomes next to impossible to track. >> that's absolutely right. look, if someone goes via turkey into syria and comes back, we have a chance to detect them. for that matter, if they get on the phone or onto an internet line and they're communicating with raqqa or mosul, we have a chance to pick that up, about if they are smart enough to keep this to themselves, to be a lone wolf, to do it with an immediate family member, if you don't tell anyone that you don't trust absolutely, how are you going to ever pick that up? we saw president obama essentially say in his press conference last friday, how do you find these people when
they've given no indication to the outside world at all that they intend to do this of course, of the dozen or so recommendations to counter the influence of i.s.i.l., only a couple of them are military-based. the rest are all about winning a water through messaging and winning the hearts and minds of people. good to talk to you. thank you for being with ut >> pleasure a senior war fellow at the america foundation. coming up, how controlling oil could be the key to victory. later, meeting the threat head on the table.
in a little more than two years i.s.i.l. has become a major player in the conflicts raging in the middle east. the group has over taken al-qaeda as the biggest born terrorist threat in the minds of most americans. it has been financed in part by the smuggling of oil into the territory it controls in syria and iraq. a senior which economist with us has studied the group. he says oil is the main source of revenue for their operations which is why it is able to maintain the stature as the world's richest terrorist organization. good to see you. thank you for being with us.
this is a very distinct difference between al-qaeda and i.s.i.l. i.s.i.l. has got a ready source of revenue that does not fend as much on a-- depend on a donor network, depend on countries that give you money through the back door. they've got a bit of a business going >> absolutely. they've always been that way. donations have always been a small part of their revenue portfolio. right now it clues oil and also extortion and taxation, much like a state would do ransom has become a smaller part of this or is it still a major part of their revenue? >> ransom has always been a nontrivial but small part of it. nothing compared to extortion, taxation, nothing compared to oil, nothing compared to the amount of money they stole from banks when they took over cities throughout iraq and syria. is it through your work you have estimated last year that i.s.i.l. produced over 150,000 barrels of oil a day. that's huge.
that amount has changed significantly since then. what's their current production load and what's the best way to cut into that revenue stream? >> so the best estimates of current production are around 30 to 40,000 barrels per day. at least that was as of october before the major wave of air strikes noun as tidal wave 2 started. the best way to cut into the revenue are two ways. one is to stop production and secondly to stop moving the oil. that's what those air strikes were about. to stop them from being able to move the oil from the fields in trucks and then from destroying the trucks so they couldn't move the oil beyond that. other than that, stopping them from smuggling the oil to potential buyers. they may be anywhere. right now all the evidence indicates that a large portion of their sales are within their territory, very difficult to stop, but then sales also to syria and i don't understand their territory to other countries
back in august 2014 when the air strikes strikes began, oil was hundred dollars a barrel. it is now $30 a barrel. what impact would that have? i suppose in you're buying it from-- if you're buying it from i.s.i.l., you're buying it less. >> that's right. because there's much more risk involved. when the global oil price fell, so did the price that they receive for their oil. in terms of refined products, any refined products they sell outside their territory are also subject to world pricing. whatever they sell inside their territory is a little bit different because that's delinked. they basically have a monopoly. even there, there are connections to the world price. that giant decline in world oil prices hurt them. it also hurt iraq a great deal. it wasn't just a one-way back against i.s.i.l. you raised the issues of the
payroll, members of families. if enough members are captured and killed these costs appeared up. tell me how that works into a targeted strategy of defeating i.s.i.l. >> that's a side benefit to a targeted strategy. what we did find is that they basically had a promise. they have a payroll and they continued to pay families, payroll was based on family size. they continued to pay families if a person was detained or killed. what we saw was that their payroll costs were mounting throughout the 2000s when u.s. operations came large. so they either stopped paying, and that would hurt morale, they're breaking their promise to their members' families, and it was hurting their operations. we found a statistical relationship between the number of money that they sent to a specific area and the level of attacks in that area.
so as we degrade their ability to raise money, we're also degrading their ability to krukt operations and-- degrade operations and we're hurting their morale all that you've described about their attacks on areas, the low price of oil, the limits we're trying to put on money getting in and out, there has been some changes in some of the gulf states in terms of laws that now make it a crime to send money to i.s.i.l. fighters, are they substantially degraded financially from where they were a year ago? >> they are degraded. i would not say they're substantially degraded. the recent air strikes did harm their oil rev news. before that it was estimated they were making $40 million dollars a month. even if these air strikes cut them to 20 million a month, and we don't know really the overall effect, that's still a lot of
money and probably more than their paying out in payroll. the oil revenue is just one piece. it hasn't, whatever we've done with oil, has not touched the money they raise from extortion and taxation. we have degraded them. they have less money, but ultimately the way to cut off their finances is to take back territory good to talk to you. thanks so much for all of this information. bleeding i.s.i.l. dry is one tactic. bombing i.s.i.l. territory is another. coming up, i will look at whether the drastic measures could dwreeld the most dramatic results. >> the homeless, it's not always who you think. >> the majority are families with children. >> a growing epidemic that impacts us all. >> i think it's the most helpless feeling i've ever experienced. >> but who's getting rich while some are just trying to survive? >> they want to make the city for people that can afford things. >> "faultlines". >> al jazeera america's
the fight against i.s.i.l. has dominated recent presidential debates. on the republican side ted cruz argues for carpet bombing i.s.i.l. territory. ben carson calls for sending in ground troops. even democratic democrat crates wonder if the white house response is adequate. p.m. obama is staying the course with targeted air strikes and continued support for local forces fighting i.s.i.l. on the ground. for more on the administration's
approach, our national security correspondent joins us. beginning with the president plan, coalition air power, a small number of operations forces and help for local forces. give us a report card on the fight against i.s.i.l. in 2015. how would you grade it and why? >> i guess if i was giving a grade it would be for satisfaction, a c minus, d plus, for effectiveness, maybe a higher grade, a b plus. it's not perfect. i say that because this is a very unsatisfying strategy. i don't know how many times i saw members of congress go up to the hill and urge a very frustrated members of congress to be patient, that the strategy is going to work in the end. i have to say that a year into this now, it is just beginning to get the sense it maybe we're turning the corner, maybe the strategy of squeezing i.s.i.l. on the ground gradually denying them territory, enabling those
local forces, especially now that we're seeing that the iraqi forces are able to do more in their own backyard, in ramadi, gives you some indication that, perhaps, this strategy is beginning to produce the desired result talk to me about two months ago the president authorised the sending of several dozen special operation forces, ground troops, if you will, to syria. the administration said at the time that they would advise local forces fighting the islamic state and not play a direct combat role. what role are they playing in this fight? >> i think a lot of people when they heard they're going to go to syria and fight i.s.i.l., there were fewer than 50, what could 50 or fewer special operation forces do against i.s.i.l. i think also the idea that these forces would be, if not on the front line, would be calling in air strikes and providing tactical advice, but what they're really doing is they're on the ground looking for the forces that the u.s. could and should support.
in iraq they have a partner on the ground that this know, they've worked with the is peshmerga in the north, u.s. has a long relationship with them. they have no relationship with these troops, fighters in syria. they need to get people on the ground, look people in the eye, try to figure out who is worth supporting, who should we drop ammunition to, who is actually effective on the ground and who might not be changing sides when these critics are out there saying we don't know who we're giving the stuff to, these are what these troops do. you talk about 50. is there a likelihood that more will be sent? >> if they're able to find the troops that the u.s. can support and they are having success and the u.s. give them ammunition and help them along and they can find more, the u.s. could very well send in more special operations forces. in the future they could do in syria what they are doing in iraq, partner with those troops on essential raids.
right now the u.s. is not at the level of come tort with them in syria as they are in iraq what about the cost. the pentagon says we have spent more than 5.3 billion dollars since the operations began in august of 2014. that comes out to about 11 million dollars a day. it is a lot of money. americans are wondering what all the money has accomplished. let's this by this in terms-- about this in terms of the targets have been and how successful they've been. >> i don't think to tell you that war is an expensive business. an aircraft carrier, when it is not aat war, costs about a million yob i don't know dollars a da day to operate. very expensive. much is going to the operations, ammunitions? of the aid on the ground. they they have had 8,000 coalition air strikes since they started.
they become more and more effective with more intelligence. we see more strikes against the i.s.i.l. oil operations, not just the fuel trucks, but also some of the transfer points for oil to try and cut off the flow of funds. also these air strikes have been very effective in enabling the local forces on the ground to move. in many cases they're the only reason that the local forces have been able to make progress. you can see that because the contrast is in afghanistan where the u.s. is not providing air strikes to the local forces in tightening the taliban. they're not making the kind of progress that we're seeing with some of the forces in iraq so as you say, some of what they've been doing since august of 2014 is starting to pay dividends >> at the same time because of the presidential campaign there is nothing but criticism of this administration from both sides, from obama's own party and from the republicans. is the administration and the pentagon, are they staying the
course as we head into 2016 with respect to a serious strategy? >> it certainly looks like it. there looks like there will be only minor adjustments to the strategy. if we see the liberation of ram adi. there may be lots of ideas floated out, but one thing you always discover is that once that candidate is actually in the office of president and has to make those decisions, a lot of times it looks different. it's not unusual for is some of the ideas floated during the campaign and touted during the campaign to be discarded after entering office i go to all the debates, listening to the suggestions as if, wow, that's the first time i heard that idea. i suspect everyone in the pentagon and in any administration where there is a going on and has thought over