In a profound embarrassment for the White House, NBC News obtained a classified map that shows the Islamic State continuing to expand, despite administration insistence to the contrary.
As NBC noted, the map emerged as the administration was ordering at least a month of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya and Italy was announcing its willingness to let the United States use its airbases for the campaign.
The White House “heat map” is dated August 2016 and reveals “a stunning three-fold increase in the number of places around the globe where ISIS is operating.”
“U.S. State Department documents indicated that in 2014, when the U.S. military began its campaign to destroy the extremists, there were only seven nations in which the fledgling state was operating,” NBC News said. “By 2015, according to the State Department’s own numbers, there were nearly double that – 13 countries.”
ISIS is still expanding because the 2016 map lists eighteen countries where “ISIS is fully operational,” plus “aspiring branches” in Egypt, Indonesia, Mali, the Philippines, Somalia, and Bangladesh.
While NBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance said the effort to attack the Islamic State’s “core” in Iraq and Syria had been successful, “it’s fair to say the whole battle space is expanding for ISIS.”
It has been a constant Obama administration talking point that terrorist attacks somehow prove the Islamic State is desperate, essentially lashing out in its death throes.
Secretary of State John Kerry, for example, said after the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, “If you’re desperate and you know you’re losing, and you know you want to give up your life, then obviously you can do some harm.”
The day before the horrific November massacre in Paris, President Barack Obama boasted that ISIS had been “contained.”
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” said Obama in November. “What is true, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in. They’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain.”