News & Politics

Gen. Flynn: ISIS Likely Has a Leadership Structure in the U.S.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

In a recent interview, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn warned that there may already be an ISIS leadership structure the United States. He also stated that the only way to succeed against them in the Middle East is to put troops on the ground.

“When I first heard about the recent attacks in Paris, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, these guys are at it again, and we’re not paying attention,'” Flynn said in a Spiegel Online interview that was posted Sunday. “The change that I think we need to be more aware of is that, in Europe, there is a leadership structure. And there’s likely a leader or a leadership structure in each country in Europe. The same is probably similar for the United States, but just not obvious yet.”

Flynn said in an interview with al Jazeera in August that the rise of ISIS — an insurgency of Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood which now threatens the United States — was a “willful decision” of the Obama administration.

Asked how the West should fight the Islamic State, Flynn said that “the sad fact is that we have to put troops on the ground.”

We won’t succeed against this enemy with air strikes alone. But a military solution is not the end all, be all. The overall strategy must be to take away Islamic State’s territory, then bring security and stability to facilitate the return of the refugees. This won’t be possible quickly. First, we need to hunt down and eliminate the complete leadership of IS, break apart their networks, stop their financing operations and stay until a sense of normality has been established. It’s certainly not a question of months — it will take years.

Flynn recommended that the United States “work constructively” with Russia because, like it or not, “Russia made a decision to be there (in Syria) and to act militarily.” He went on to note that it was “really weird” to him that the president of France had to ask the U.S. for help militarily after the Paris attacks, instead of the U.S. jumping in on its own.

That’s really weird to me, as an American. We should have been there first and offered support. Now he is flying to Moscow and asking Putin for help.

Flynn also acknowledged that in retrospect, invading Iraq was a mistake.

As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.