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New documentary explores perfect storm that allowed ISIS to grow

October 29th, 2014
01:18 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

A new documentary from producer and journalist Martin Smith gives insight into the series of failures and unheeded warning signs that allowed ISIS to grow into one of most brutal terrorist groups in the world.

The Rise of ISIS, by PBS’s FRONTLINE, draws on numerous interviews with both Iraqi politicians and U.S. decision makers. It points to Syria’s bloody civil war as the organization’s main breeding ground.

“Maliki's crackdown [on Sunnis] was a factor. But without Syria, I don't think ISIS would have become ISIS,” Smith told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

Smith added that it was around 2011 that “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of then Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, sent a few men over into Syria and guerrilla movements need sanctuary and they need open spaces where they can exploit, grow.”

Some former Obama administration officials have criticized the President for not supporting moderate rebels earlier, so that extreme jihadi militants would not gain strength.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Saudi Arabia could aid talks with ISIS in hostage situations, says veteran negotiator

October 22nd, 2014
02:22 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Saudi Arabia could have a role in hostage negotiations with ISIS militants, former U.N. hostage negotiator Giandomenico Picco told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Picco conducted many high-profile negotiations in Lebanon that led to the release of several Western hostages in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He told Amanpour that if asked to engage in open talks with the terrorist group, he would have a “conversation… with somebody in Saudi Arabia”.

The veteran diplomat also stressed that it was equally important to open a channel of communication with “a military arm in ISIS which is actually led by the deputy of President Saddam.”

He said he would attempt to focus negotiating efforts on that wing of the group rather than on the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who “may have been able to catch the hostages, but may be unable to negotiate their release.”

Governments tend to ask desperate families to stay quiet and trust them to get their loved ones back, but John Foley, whose son U.S. journalist James Foley was brutally murdered by ISIS in August, told Amanpour that he and his wife Diane Foley regret having remained silent.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Journalism • Latest Episode • Syria

Confronting religious extremism

October 21st, 2014
10:06 AM ET

As ISIS commits terrible crimes in the name of Islam, Christiane Amanpour speaks with two experts on the religion.

Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Islam • Latest Episode • Syria

Using comedy to counter ISIS

October 20th, 2014
02:47 PM ET

The fight against ISIS is not only being fought on the battleground - it is also being waged through comedy, on Iraqi TV. Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Saudi extremist funding ‘has been stopped completely,’ claims Prince Alwaleed

October 20th, 2014
02:31 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

With the scrutiny of the world on ISIS’s alleged Gulf funders, billionaire Saudi businessman Alwaleed Bin Talal insisted in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that his country has completely clamped down on the practice.

“Yes, we had a weakness over there, whereby some unfortunately some extremists in Saudi Arabia…did fund certain extremist elements in Syria. But Saudi Arabia has taken very strict rules to stop that from happening. And yes, right now all this has been stopped completely,” he said.

Qatar has come under the most scrutiny in its alleged funding of extremists like ISIS, as Amanpour discussed with that country’s emir last month.

But wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia have also been under the spotlight, especially now that the country (along with Qatar and several other Gulf nations) have joined the American coalition against ISIS.

The clampdown, Alwaleed said, is “better late than never.”

“I think we are hopefully doing some good and positive by halting at least the ISIS move now into northern border, the border of Syria.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Saudi Arabia • Syria

Iran touts ‘experience’ fighting terrorists, says airstrikes not enough against ISIS

October 14th, 2014
03:27 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Iran has “good experience” fighting terrorists, and came to the aid of Iraqis against ISIS, the speaker of the Iranian parliament told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, saying that U.S.-led airstrikes alone would not be enough to destroy the militants.

“I think it is very unlikely to destroy guerilla fighters by just dropping bombs on their heads,” Ali Larijani said through an interpreter.

Along with the president, Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, he is one of the most powerful people in the country.

“Us, I mean Iran, went to the side of the Iraqis very early when the crisis broke out. We don't really want to broadcast it; we don't want to go to the media and talk about what we did for the Iraqis. But in practice, we defended them.”

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, has even been photographed on the ground in Iraq.

“Terrorists cannot be destroyed by bombing them. You cannot solve terrorism by occupation. And in order to fight them effectively, you have to choose another method. And you know that we have good experience in that, because we have actually fought against them.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

ISIS fight may take 5-10 years, says key Iraqi MP

October 13th, 2014
03:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Countering the assessment of the Obama Administration, a key Iraqi parliamentarian on Monday told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the fight against ISIS could last “five to ten years.”

Mowaffak al-Rubaie represents Baghdad in parliament and is a former national security adviser to then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“I do not agree with the White House assessment that three years is enough to destroy ISIS from Iraq and Syria. I believe this is a long war, and we have to prepare ourselves in a political, social, and ideological challenge as well, as well as the security challenge.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

By ignoring Assad, U.S. is empowering the ‘pyromaniac’ to be the ‘fireman,’ says Syrian opposition

October 9th, 2014
03:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

By waging war only on ISIS in Syria, and not Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. has an incomplete military strategy that plays into Assad’s hands, Bassma Kodmani, an adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“He has basically been the pyromaniac fireman who now comes as the fireman to say I will be the one to help in fighting these groups on the ground.”

“I think he has been waiting for this moment, he has prepared for it.”

U.S President Barack Obama says that Assad long ago lost the legitimacy to rule, but has nonetheless made clear that he is not the priority right now.

America’s war on ISIS in Syria lays bare the Middle East’s complex web of alliances and foes; ISIS is a bitter enemy of Assad’s as well, and as America goes after the group, Assad is able to concentrate on battling non-Islamic opposition groups.

“These strikes are allowing him to come to the other areas where the Free Syrian Army is, where the rebellion is, and to strike there. He has not stopped one day his strikes with barrel bombs and the population continues to die.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Fall of Kobani risks security of whole region, says Syrian Kurdish leader

October 9th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The fall of the Syrian city of Kobani to ISIS militants would put the security of the whole region at risk, Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Moslem Mohamed told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“This brutal organization called Da’esh, or ISIS, they don’t know the border,” he said. “They were in Mosul, against the Kurds, they were in Sinjar, and now they are in Kobani. So what’s the next step?”

If the Kurds in Kobani are defeated, “I don’t want to think of it even, because…it means the victory of ISIS, which ISIS at that time could go to Istanbul…could go to anywhere.”

“We are going step by step to another genocide or maybe massacre, because those people are refusing to give up, insisting on defending their land and defending their homes and defending their dignity.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria • Turkey

ISIS fight needs boots on the ground, says former British military chief

October 8th, 2014
02:43 PM ET

WEB EXTRA: Richards says the world cannot take its foot off the pedal in Afghanistan.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The former head of the British military, General David Richards, said on Wednesday that the international fight against ISIS needed boots on the ground.

"I think you’ve got to make sure that your aerial campaign is accurately delivered, and that probably means some special forces up front," he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Experienced Western armies must play some role in the war, he said, if there is hope for victory.

“I’m not saying they have to be on the frontline, but they have to be deeply involved in the logistics, which is what often discriminates proper armies from amateur armies.”

An air campaign alone, he said, "cannot possibly" succeed.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria • Turkey
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