Spread of ISIS and Transnational Terrorism, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, Second Session, April 12, 2016   [open pdf - 597KB]

This is a testimony compilation of the April 12, 2016 hearing "The Spread of ISIS and Transnational Terrorism," held before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. From the prepared statement of Graeme Wood: "I will begin with the reasonable fear. Supporters of ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] have given me little reason to believe that their most brutal and intolerant statements are mere bravado or exaggeration for effect. [...] When they talk about putting the Shia to the sword, or reinstituting slavery and other practices inconsistent with modern notions of human rights, they do so without apology, and at times with evident gusto. Their opinions are thoroughly premeditated, and they are based in an interpretation of scripture and Islamic history, as well as practical considerations. It would be folly to discount their sincerity or to interpret their beliefs as idle, ill-considered, or foolish. The fanaticism is real, and it does not reduce to other factors. [...] I come, then, to the topic of unreasonable fear. First, we should note the mismatch between the soaring ideological claims of ISIL and its practical capability. Its mode of expansion in Syria and Iraq, through fast movement of light-armored vehicles in familiar terrain, does not readily transfer into most other places, and would certainly fail in Turkey or heavily Kurdish or Shiite areas of Iraq. It requires desperate, beleaguered local populations, with some base willingness to contemplate a harsh revivalist Islamism as an alternative to the status quo. The ideology of ISIL echoes Nazism in its genocidal ambitions and tone, but the it is not matched by an equally powerful war machine. The ISIL military is not one of the world's most formidable, and we should not mistake the grandeur of its language for vast operational capacity." Statements, letters, and other materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Graeme Wood, Matthew Levitt, and Matthew G. Olson.

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