tv Michael Weiss on ISIS CSPAN November 8, 2015 6:15am-7:05am EST
michael weiss author of "isis" inside the army of terror" your times best-seller. to introduce him and moderate a discussion with question and answer sessions with you as all our other author was supposed to be here he sent his regrets the author of black flag which is another book on the basis in he was not able to come because of the death in the family. it is good to see such a large crack a and we have a lot of time alloted on the back end of the discussion for questions and answers. first of all, i will tell you about michael weiss who has reported recovered russia and the middle east extensively as a senior editor at the "daily beast" and his book came out last
february iran and it was a national best seller are in crisis. -- on isis. we can go into my set of questions first to get started. tell us of little how you came to write the books and why. >> guest: i was covering the serious crisis more or less since its inception 2011 and long before there is any isis' presence in syria or the acknowledged of the declared presence and i got to know the opposition which in the beginning was peaceful protesters and activist but then with the rebellion of speed aside regime i was meeting with refuge she's dead rebels because southern turkey our barracks for the revolution
but the summer of 2012 during ramadan with the free syrian army convoy hearing that the squadron was liberated in spent the night about one an hour north of the city. the order of the house was in serious trouble and spent the night there and it was extraordinary because i have seen firsthand to see the images broadcast from thousands of miles away but you have to do see it for yourself to understand the driving force behind the rebellion. because at night they would put down there guns to pick up a white gloves and a garbage bags to pick up the of rubble from the streets because assad was bombarding
civilian never structure targeting of hospitals anybody injured or badly wounded could not be treated. was extraordinary they turn the mosque into a makeshift hospital in treating everybody militiamen even the pro-government fighters equally with the rebels lysol that with my own eyes. about six months later the town was completely taken over that i stated the house that i stated is now controlled by isis the family went into a turkey that i stayed with. so i watched a generation of what started out as a noble and a dignified rebellion over a totalitarian government and is the
parallel image of what it deemed to overthrow. my co-author is the syrian national comes from the eastern proverbs -- province of syria. in context is the gateway to our between syria and iraq over 10 years was a traffic .4 al qaeda and earned iraq the jihadist group now known as isis. the so it has a relationship to be the of juarez to el paso if you know, the mexican drug cartel. so they have a family network that he knows everybody basically in this region so for purposes of the book we got we will not write a book unless we initially interviewed to understand the nature of the enemy.
we got to these interviews with a lot of fighters but they are family members. how was it a 16 year-old boy a studying chemical engineering wanted to live in the west? besides to cast his lot with barbarians. what is the driving mechanism? the purpose is to try to explain, not justified, but given explanation or account for the rise of this terror army by last look now controls a swath of terrain greatly more dash roughly the size of great britain. and i did a lot of media in 2014 to inaugurate this coalition war and i kept getting asked, where did they come from? how do they just emerged from nowhere?
it sounded like the most absurd question i have never heard. pc imagine it is 1985 and vietcong concord southeast asia but they don't call themselves that. everybody says where do they come from? crisis was al qaeda anti-iraq - - in iraq and through november primary target of the united states. so now they just changed the brand name and marketing and strategy has evolved in a sophisticated manner that makes them all the greater to defeat. so it is the work of history going back to the early origins, a the founder of the feast the jailbird that went into iraq with the coalition campaign first he spent time in iraq and set
up this organization which did not start as the al qaeda franchise but became one after a series of spectacular attacks targeting the jordanian embassy with sue wanted to give that average reader that we all have targets on their backs the would fly planes in the buildings into whatever they can to lead and humiliate and frankly every civilized country in the world so this is of broad history but it culminates with the profiles of who these guys are and what they want. >> host: can you go into what you describe very effectively in the of book of the social media and the internet campaign?
keeping in mind the question of whether or not the extent to which isis' can recruit is a function of the scope of its social media and internet campaign or to what extent it is the actual isis message. >> guest: everybody has heard about the four infighter phenomenon. 14 year-old boy is indonesia's addicted to video games choice this kids in kentucky get married for the purpose to travel to turkey because they want to join the army. but the real story how with has done its with has been able to do people joining are already in that terrain. they operate like a mafia or political organization.
it is not to look through the lens of counterterrorism 20th century movements is the lens through which you have to understand these guys and it is not a coincidence that people in the upper echelon by in large, from where? the former regime of saddam hussein the regime that the united states toppled so that tells us the iraqi government was trained by to? the soviet kgb there was a great report that shows context that he obtained the documents from the guy who was ted he was a former
security official that established the ice network in syria and christoph said it was like reading something from the 1970's waukesha used to do to you dissident's running counter intelligence operations and cultivating informants and we think vice this is dave military juggernaut with he think they carry personnel carriers but actually they give themselves over to isis indians of the invasion. they will send in sleeper cells that go around to the local population to say who was controlling the area? the free syrian army? their correct they're involved in rape and murder and killing and by the way your trash is piled half a
mile high. we will make the trains run on time just pledged allegiance to us if not we will kill you because you are a traitor and enemies of entire villages go to isis' before they get there. this is the reason they take the train. with social media and propaganda they are very good at using twitter and facebook actually they have platforms that people here have not heard of the document one called zelo in application on a mobile device to listen in realtime to what the clerics are paul keating from the caliphate so they're giving their sermons and prayers you can listen to that on your cellphone. this goes back years. the founder of now the recall isis, his network masterminded the use the
recall agitation and propaganda you remember the american contractor in iraq. but was the optics of that killing? they address to the guantanamo jumpsuit they denounced him as an enemy of a crusader occupation of the holy land of iraqi and cut off his head on tv we did have the term by role played -- bible in 2004 but the video with viral. we watched these and were horrified but a lot of people watch these and they think it is just desserts america led the legal koli war style occupation in iraq that is the propaganda that they came in to knock out with isis as a political project.
they really do motivate their actions and thinking. they knocked off saddam hussein overruling the uncia of majority if you were sunii you were high on the hob with your six mistresses , and illegal black market trade of prime of the estate but when we went in and we disbanded the iraqi army we did the deep dedication bills first level to work rendered unfit for public service so they rendered an unemployed but humiliated their loss a sense of dignity or so forth the insurgency as it started in 2003 was not led by
foreign fighters and want to emphasize this that is a problem but look at the native population first. those that were disenfranchised became insurgents fighting be americans. to issue a very important statement around 2002 to say that for the first time ever the moose jaw had been though holy warriors around the world should make with a socialist infidel meaning the bath party agent. to know that there would have this class who would want to have revenge sir carr reit was of for a fighter but they became the insurgency because behind him was a native population.
this is the most important thing why isis was to caulker areas they convert people to the cause they need this unique arabs they present themselves as the custodian and safeguard of the sunii is a lot. the one to reclaim baghdad for sunii his mom but dacia are less than dirt you're better to be christian or a jew he wanted to kill all of shia said his plan was to blow up the mosque's they will radicalize this table, and after the sunii and kill us and torture us into all the horrible things that we remember from the iraq war that is the entire population of iraq.
that was his plan for al qaeda and iraq but isis has adopted the plan and expanded in a grim and brilliant fashion and the reason they are successful successful, looking geopolitics united states essentially goes into hands of iraq to iran. lead advocate is a cohesive unified state but it has evolved you have shia and sunii and kurtis tim. in terms of the government ministries. but the sunii said why are they doing this? this is strategically stupid for you to do so today what
do they say? united states to not accidentally do anything as part of a global conspiracy the united states is in bed with assad in syria that is why they did not topple his government and they're working with the iranians and look at this objectively that is indeed what is taking place not that we favor iran but looking objectively what is this coalition? united states and iran and russia and they are going against the extreme wing of isis even if you're not sympathetic you see this and it will matted you like wine it creates the sympathy at a level of political apathy. so you have to understand
the way this part of the world works and one of the tragedies of the last decade aside from stupid for policy decisions is we have learned a lot of this the saving grace of iraq was we learned how to cultivate budget sunii to turn against the edgy hottest we have forgotten that budget crisis has not learned it has absorbed and corrected for that now is defeating and we're losing the war because of that dichotomy and strategy. >> host: when you say we're losing the war, the talk about what it is we are doing and whether or not there has been anything you could qualify as progress and a little bit of the current russian campaign is
affecting our options. >> guest: i really don't think the united states has developed a coherent strategy to defeat and contain two raid on the parade of isis. we're doing in the early days of the iraq war strictly counterterrorism operation to drop a lot of bombs, lean on non credible nasty war criminal elements on the ground to do the work for us to get out of territory the people that fight isis the most are the shia militia groups that have spent the better part of the decade going after american now we have partnered with our former enemies then they kick isis' out then they say we have cleansed by the government of iraq so we're doing the same things over but the
reason i suggest is still on the indians is remember the awakening? remember the surge rejected 35,000 troops into iraq with the idea to solidify political gains made at the grassroots local level village by a village city by city. the awakening was sunii tribes whether tribes about stayed their welcome the base in another form of occupation the impinged on the economies they fascinated the leadership said they said we don't like the americans but it all blubber burn our houses to the ground.
so they partnered with us in a pragmatic fashion and it worked up to the point where it didn't work and that was the point forget about a military withdrawal but to politically disengage where maliki was up puppet of iran and did exactly the things that could not be done so to keep the most extremist sunii jihadist out of the country. we allow this to become another sectarian war. the united states is walking into another trap. we are partnering with people that are seen by well-meaning sunii that could be our allies again and want to be desperately desperately, are seen as no better than i says -- isis or worst. with russia by said russia will intervene in people look to me like i had three
heads and i said they will not go after isis' despite the propaganda their goal is no different to destroy any credible alternatives to assad the free syrian army army, this is a catchall category yet hundreds of not thousands of militias armed underground but there are those that they have been partnering with and they're holding ground against the assad regime but put his goal is to destroy that would get the first three weeks according to u.s. government with a 90% of the russian air force are targeting non isis targets. 5% margin of error to eliminate the free syrian
army is demoralized of rebels have forced them to join one of two major terrorist organizations and they split from isis is in 2014 that is another story later. in damascus says we know we are war criminals i am leased chemical weapons and tortured and raped and murdered but it is us are those that want to fly planes and you're building so they have acquiesced into a plan that has been cooked up bemba capitals and now we allow this to take place. >> host: so if you could buy is the government, of what would you say to the united states that we should be doing? >> let me explain the
dynamics. isis has taken territory because russia is bombing everybody but prices territory they have not been able to take into years so the u.s. government's objective is to control a - - control or destroyed in a partner with russia because that is not their objective. they have no desire to do that you need people and an opposition at that period least we do this to some degree there is a system the u.s. has spent providing a very effective into charred hunks of metal the real loud of this to pour into the
country so they have iranian ground soldiers backed by russian air power hitting targets that isis' hits at the same time it you are a serious trouble in any way interested working with the rest you -- the west you get a from all sides. but the of battle against isis but demographically isis said the end of days is coming and will begin in a town in a province so exactly where this war is
taking place because this will usher in an armageddon as a powerful narrative if they come anywhere near to get these areas. i don't think anyone wants to see united states shut down russian aircraft. i had the problem to engage the iranian ground forces. that coalition the ayatollah of the supreme leader of the expeditionary rain - - wing to deliver a deliberate defeat and selling it to the iranian people and resistance fighters are putting to death now the people are starving because there is still a sanctions regime.
we have a toolkit we're just not moving these at our disposal the ears or i am sympathetic we're tired and even if you don't believe the liberal interventionism were to go in search of monsters and abroad the problem with this idea is you may not be interested in the middle east but they are interested did you but you cannot extract yourself from this part of the world is because when you step down we will create equilibrium. if yes iran and saudi arabia and cutter has stepped up. this is not the equilibrium
anybody wants to see emerge in mesopotamia that is a lost cause. you start adding a small level to give a coherent strategy if you want to beat isis than understand what comes along with that strategy. >> host: day que very much we will turn over to questions. [applause] , to the microphone behind me.
>> they give for that illuminating presentation and. my question maybe so basic is there a difference between the term isis and isil and if not why does the administration continued to use the term isil? [applause] >> guest: roughly speaking, no. historically speaking efp idea that ice is covers more terrain but the fact that we have debates what to call them is the level of
stability. [laughter] [applause] when the president of the united states says we must not call them the islamic state to set you call them the islamic state. it doesn't matter. just kill them. get a strategy in place. what is the counter narrative? should be tweet 10 times the day? it is of pressing in the wind. they think this is peak america that also a defeat propaganda unfortunately. >> what is the near term and long term effect of the mass exodus of the european community? that is a very good question
is not be a saudi regime -- assad regime and those proxy's with ethnic cleansing any atrocity you can show me i says has perpetrated talking burning people alive we had set houses on fire to let women and children cooked a gang rape boys and girls imprisons asia of rats into the vagina as of women. is out terrific but did mention that for a reason because you have to a trustee and rice's derives the political capital. the refugees, everybody is worried that they will come over but no. they want people to come into syria and iraq the people they dispatched into europe actually goes to come over in in droves from the
refugee crisis aren't the shia militia the iranian-backed mercenaries many that are war criminals. my soul shall media is awash with rifle stolen from the iraqi security forces or the u.s. army to that talk to us to stand in front of a mcdonald's and brussels their the ones coming over i have no credible impotent -- evidence although i am sure the you wake up one day to say that isis' sleeper to offer as part of a convoy but it is very deleterious to cover the transatlantic relationship will get
hungry. there prime minister off though wave of the enthusiasm so will affect in nato i was in paris three weeks ago the entire muslim sentiment is of the rise because there is terrorist attacks all the time. this is another reason why the middle east never stays in the middle east. i hope that the answers your question. >> comment on details of non hysterical information conveyed through media with the ongoing middle eastern crisis. >> it is hysterical because there is cause for hysteria when they controlled three
capitals in the middle east to have a problem. i agree. i try as best i can to give an accurate portrayal ito wanted to a way to go home to think they will spring of the sioux were and they are under my bed it is not that bad be have been very lucky in this country we have a very good enforcement sector with fbi in the local police and counterterrorism but look at the statistics there was a piece we have averaged about one event per month of one aborted terror plot. somebodies are keystone kops a 15 year-old girl in brooklyn trying to experiment with propane gas bombs that could be dangerous but 9/11 type of
stuff. the one per month is a lot and that is worse the of the post and 11 period and it is because we're at a state right now and now is this the period we live in? liberal democracy in the credit crisis i remember a the rise of these french parties and isis is part of this they sell themselves as a vanguard political ideology it is very powerful. in that i mentioned i pepper this contemporary subject as
a great estate to say how was it the most civilized industrialized nation in europe gave themselves over so don't think it can happen again with the religious fundamentalists they always said i will return and has done a lot during the first goal for to push back. he turned his agents into islamists that we deal with today. does not slow down and it does not and. i have a five month old daughter by the time she is ready for college we will still talk about isis it may not be called that the people still talk about it. >> what is your best guess of how it will play out?
>> i honestly don't know. i can tell you what is now working which i did. to give between mild to moderate recommendations but i really don't know. you hear cheerleading masquerading as analysis. we broke the story of a few weeks ago at the pentagon 15 different analyst have blown the whistle on the pentagon because their cookies the intelligence just like the iraq war basically a rosier picture alidade disrupt the oil that work they don't even rely on oil as the primary source of it come anymore they bombed the refinery is that they have makeshift ones that we did not know about. they are very adaptable and clever. we have to be honest.
even if not politically fashionable that goes against the tide of the electorate you still have to tell the truth if you don't understand your enemies have no business to try to fight it much less defeat it. >> i will make a statement and ask for your resolution. we went for war in iraq because rogue guys flew into the world trade center. i personally think we never should have got there. however you want, but might have been a better solution to what happened? a better solution. >> i've asked all the time but we have vice is if we didn't go to iraq? >> if we wouldn't have the crisis but don't rule out the contingency of group of
non al qaeda could have been merged to have done as much damage. a historian is ever on his honor but pretended is still running baghdad who is the primary patron behind the armed insurgency of syria? saddam hussein the three syrian army would not need united states or kuwait why? because even those of don and assad hated each other even though part of the same party it goes back centuries of damascus and baghdad of who rules of middle east so that may not have then the present state of affairs. i'm in shed earlier we think
his regime as being secular but after 1991 or before he started the islamic faith campaign the attempt to marry that ideology because it is my the greatest threat would come from within to be overthrown said he tried to create a frankenstein monster that heard in to the insurgents created from a u.s. invasion of what had gone through the face campaign it was already made and by the way they also had to access those mechanisms the way that weapons used to pour into iraq in the advance of the pending
catastrophe that was all manner of -- manna so we don't know. so the cities are a the majority but what are they doing or what could they be doing? they say it is bad but then they bombed the kurds? >> the turks have played a very dangerous game i reported from turkey fiver six times across the border into syria because the army did not care with a correspondent friend of mine because he has a route -- brown skin and he got a refugee card coming out of syria typically he is assyrian refugees have turn
a blind eye because that was the primary objective actually was secondary the primary was to forestall or prevent syria and is as old is then filtered through the prism with then and without so they have a good relationship with the iraqi kurds then by given them their own statement did not want to be seen as the democratic union of kurdistan backed by u.s. weaponry with u.s. forces on the ground the problem is
that is the syrian branch of the pkk that is the kurdish workers party we consider that to be a terrorist organization the turks consider it as bad as i says just you understand the "alice in wonderland" nature the first largest army in nato gives support to a group that is the sister of a terrorist organization according to the second largest army meanwhile it is bombing the terrorist organization at the same time that does not exclude the russians and iranians that is how complicated this state of affairs is the the ideology exported from saudi arabia degenerated the
bosnian campaign in the balkans we're still dealing with the demons of this the al qaeda ideology from essentially what coal states or countries were doing. it is a verifiable bids people say isis cancer money from the saudis but they don't have to take this home please. he was killed but before that he become so self sufficient by running oilwells kidnapping or cuban trafficking or extortion so rich the osama bin on an ast there of a subsidiary for the lot and i don't think anyone truly knows how much they're making but they're making millions of dollars every day and every month
the board to read they take a charge taxes this is what they want people and cities and towns it is the village of a thousand people every member has to pay taxes that doesn't count what is get off the top. so we could say our allies are not doing enough but they are part of the coalition they're dropping bombs there using the former spiritual mentors in order to do that so one of the ways they made some much money is repeated governments paid hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom money the country has denied that they do this and they are hopping mad.
>> one more question. >> recently decided to keep forces in afghanistan are they interested? >> they're fighting a the taliban. when you have chaos the extremists will rise to a top takeover because they have better discipline with a more coherent narrative narrative, they kill anyone in their way because they don't care about being killed. we did it get to where they are palestine, libya, yemen they have a significant bridge in the sinai peninsula and they're not like iraq and syria an elegy
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