Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | michael hayden | ISIS | spokesman | death | good news

Gen. Michael Hayden: ISIS Spokesman's Death 'Good News' for Ongoing Battle

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Thursday, 01 September 2016 08:18 AM

The death of Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani earlier this week was "genuinely good news" in the long-running fight against the jihadist group and marked "significant erosion" of ISIS' terrorist operations, retired Gen. Michael Hayden said Thursday.

"This guy was the spokesman and the propagandist, and he made all those videos and controlled external operations," the former CIA and National Security Agency director told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, disagreeing with show host Joe Scarborough question about al-Adnani being a "replaceable part."

But he did agree the death of al-Adnani will be "strategically effective over time," rather than bringing a halt to ISIS' activities.

"You have to think about it more as erosion instead of an earthquake," said Hayden. "He was an important guy. This is significant erosion."

Similar deaths affected al-Qaida's operations over time, said Hayden.

"You don't have to believe me," said Hayden. "Our governments actually released some letters from Osama bin Laden in 2011. He was talking to lieutenants and for one of a better word, they were terrorized by American drone strikes along the Afghan/Pakistan border.

"It really did affect their operations and their ability to move and communicate and, frankly, it took their attention away from killing us and put it on trying to preserve their own lives. So, we see the same kind of thing I believe working in Syria."

However, there is a major difference between al-Qaida and ISIS, as the first group was "hierarchical" and did not direct its violence, but instead worked to "crowd source" it, so the immediate effects of a strike against ISIS are "less dramatic" and will take a longer time to make an effect.

It's still important to remember, though, that ISIS recruits people because they "look successful," said Hayden, "and the more you kill senior leadership, the more you take their jihadist mojo away from them."

Hayden does, think though, that President Barack Obama's efforts to hit the jihadists with drone strikes rather than the battlefield has been effective, and said the continuity between Obama's administration and that of former President George W. Bush has been "amazing."

Even with this week's news about the death of al-Adnani, Hayden said, there are other things happening in the Middle East that are bad news, including incidents in Turkey that are a "byproduct of our going light and not being more deeply involved in the situation in Syria."

Hayden said he is "really skeptical" that the United States and Russia can form a closer union when it comes to Syria.

"I can't rule out immediate tactical cooperation for mutual advantage," said Hayden.
"Fundamentally, they're there to prop up the Assad regime. As long as the Assad regime is in existence, we're going to feed Sunni extremism. We can't get out of this as long as Assadism continues to claim rule over all of what we used to call Syria."

He also believe that there were several opportunities over the past several years that could have helped in Syria, including a no-fly zone and a safe zone.

"Frankly, with the Russians now on scene with their sole purpose of propping up Assad, all of that is really, really hard to do now," said Hayden. "But at the microlevel, the Turks went into northern Syria.

"They wanted to go in with embedded American special operation forces. I think that might have controlled somewhat Turkish behavior."

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The death of Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani earlier this week was "genuinely good news" in the long-running fight against the jihadist group...
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Thursday, 01 September 2016 08:18 AM
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