Islamic militants aim to take Baghdad airport

Jordan also at top of Islamic State’s hit list

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But it is now in a better position to execute terrorist attacks and foment revolt.

Jordan is their next stated objective,” said retired Army Gen. John M. Keane, an architect of the 2007 U.S. troop surge that greatly damaged ISIL’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq.

“Think about the problem the Jordanians have,” Mr. Keane said. “They’ve got a 350-kilometer border on one side with Syria and a 175-kilometer border on the other side with Iraq, and both areas are controlled and influenced by ISIL. Jordan is facing a very real threat.”

Said Mr. Johnson: “Jordan still has a very effective army. The concern throughout the region is nobody trusts the United States. They don’t trust the United States anymore to act in an appropriate manner to protect their interests.”

A landlocked, mostly Sunni kingdom bordering the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan is one of only two Arab nations that have signed a peace agreement with Israel. The other is Egypt.

Asked whether Jordan is next for the Islamic State militants, a U.S. intelligence official said, “ISIL’s goal includes establishing an Islamic caliphate and fighting the United States, according to its own spokesperson.”

Mr. Keane said the Islamic State will follow a blueprint it executed in Mosul: months of methodical terrorist attacks and assassinations.

“ISIL will not march on Jordan as they did in northern Iraq. The Jordanian air force would blow them off the road,” he said. “They will return to terrorist activities and recruit and exploit radical Islamist movements inside of Jordan.

“They’ll connect to those movements in Jordan and pump new recruits into them,” he said. “They’ll cross the borders and conduct terrorist activities themselves from the sanctuaries of Iraq and Syria.”

The U.S. military is flying about 50 surveillance flights daily over Iraq, using manned and unmanned craft, to assess the Islamic State and map targets.

An assessment team made up mostly of U.S. special operations forces has nearly completed a report to the Pentagon on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces. Many members fled when Islamic State militants broke out of Mosul a month ago and started taking villages and towns.

“The assessment will likely be pretty dire,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer. “After all, half of the divisions already crumbled, and what little political confidence there was for al-Maliki is rapidly evaporating. I see little hope Iraqi forces can recapture the lost territory without help.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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