ISIL and LCN and FBI: U.S.A. Out of Step

(1) out of stepI shouldn’t let little things bother me but unfortunately I sometimes can’t help it.  I was bothered yesterday when I read this:

“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the United States is aware of Americans who are serving with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “Over 100 U.S. citizens who have U.S. passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIL forces,” Hagel said Wednesday on CNN. “There may be more, we don’t know.” Following ISIS’s execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff, Hagel stressed the need for an aggressive response to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. ” (my emphasis)

What bothers me about this is the USA government’s continuing reference to the radical Muslims group that has beheaded a couple of Americans as ISIL. The government talks about ISIL and the reporter writes about ISIS. Are they talking about the same thing?

ISIL is the acronym for Islamic State in the Levant, the Levant being somewhat synonymous for the Middle East.

The rest of the world including the American media calls this radical  group ISIS. ISIS is the acronym for the Islamic State in Syria. Syria is where they originated as a radical force and now have seized up to a third of Iraq. 

As best I can tell us these butchers call themselves the Islamic State which would make them IS. When I see the US government and all its agencies walking out of step with the rest of the world I wonder what it is that they hope to accomplish. 

It reminds me of another folly that it persists in. This is one in which my favorite of all agencies the FBI refuses to change. To understand this you have to know a little of the background.

When J. Edgar Hoover became director of the FBI back in 1924 his aim was to free America from anarchists and communists who he felt threatened the country. He did such a good job of it that he all but wiped them out by the end of the 1940s. You wouldn’t have known it because Joe McCarthy came around in the 1950s and seemed to think they lived under most desks in the State Department but Joe was being Joe, sort of like Manny being Manny.  He had his little shtick which he pushed as far as he could.

But Hoover’s problem was he had become so consumed with chasing the Reds he overlooked another growing problem in the country which was the Mafia. One of the reasons I suggest is that he knew the Mafia helped out our war effort during WWII. It not only made sure the New York ports were free of sabotage (the Irish gangs also pitched in – it shows how in war time even the most implacable enemies can work together). As important, the Mafia gave much help in giving us information for our invasion of Sicily.

In Hoover’s eyes the Mafia was not a threat to America where the Reds were. Hoover had been asked about the Mafia’s rising in power in America but he professed that there was no Mafia. Then in 1957 when news that over 100 Italian men from all over America (Italy, Canada, and Cuba also sent delegates) met in Apalachin, New York, was splashed over the newspapers and airwaves, Hoover was asked what was going on. It appeared to all that a big Mafia meeting had taken place.

Hoover responded. He agreed he said there was no Mafia but he pointed out he never said there was no La Cosa Nostra (literally translated The Our Thing?) Hoover then required all his agents to begin to call the Mafia, the LCN. Hoover stuck to the fiction that the FBI knew about the LCN and that even though it looked in all respects like the Mafia it wasn’t the Mafia.

To this date the FBI still calls the Mafia the LCN. I suppose long after ISIS becomes a casualty of history as all outlier groups eventually do our government will still call it ISIL.


  1. Remember when we were in school in those bad old 40s and 50s we read Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man Without a Country?” Bet schools today don’t ever mention anything like it.

    Here’s a link to a video on current US police militarization. Gardaí here don’t even have guns!

    • Henry:

      I do recall reading that and remember thinking it was quite horrible to never get to walk on land again. I wouldn’t take you up on the bet because things like that which gave us somewhat of a common heritage are no longer taught. I’m not sure much of anything is since everyone is texting all the time.

      Interesting you said the Gardai don’t have guns. I was thinking a few hours ago after reading about some poor guy shot in a Walmart that perhaps we should try disarming our police. I know there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that would happen but the idea came to me. My son once went to a friend’s house to visit in Dover. The friend wasn’t home but he had been followed by a Dover cop. As he was rining the bell the cop came up behind him with his gun out wanting to know what he was doing there. I remember it gave me chills thinking of that cop pointing a gun at my kid. It’s he was a finger squeeze away from being shot.

  2. Looks like Jim Bulger got moved to a high security prison near orlando in florida, any reason to why this may have happened? Heard he was in the “no good unit” I.E. with elizabeth smarts kidnapper etc. Any idea why he got transferred?

  3. Matt,

    The confusion is actually easily explained. ISIS and ISIL are identical. As you note, ISIL stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But ISIS does not stand for Islamic State in Syria. Rather, it stands for Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, where al-Sham is the Arabic term for the area surrounding Damascus – basically the area between the Mediterranean and the cradle of civilization. Some in the media probably also mean to indicate Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, but technically is referring to al-Sham.

    Also, ISIS/ISIL did not originate in Syria but in Iraq. This group can be traced to al Qaeda in Iraq (aka Islamic State in Iraq), the former group run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was largely responsible for the sectarian bloodshed that hit its peak in Iraq in 2006-07 because his methods were as brutal as the current IS butchers (Zarqawi himself was killed by an American strike in June 2006).

    The link to Syria is two-fold: first, many of the fighters who fueled the Sunni-Al Qaeda alliance during the worst days of sectarian fighting in Iraq came through Syria, as detailed in the so-called Sinjar documents, as a result of Assad’s regime looking the other way (and now paying the ultimate price associated with blowback); and second, when the uprisings against the Assad regime began in 2011 and the Assad regime responded with its brutal crackdown, jihadist groups arrived to help the insurrection. First came Al Nusrah, the Islamic Group (an umbrella including Al Ahram and other groups), and other Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, as well as a mix of others. Later came ISIL/ISIS, which split from the Al Qaeda groups when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (ISIL/ISIS’s current leader) refused to reconcile with Abu Muhammad al-Julani (Al Nusrah Front’s leader) even at the behest of Zawahiri and such well-known AQ-affiliated jihadist clerics such as Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi and Abu Qatada.

    Arguably, all this could have been avoided if the Obama regime and the West in general had been more proactive early on with a strategy to arm and support the rebels with more than rhetoric. But they did not, the Assad regime cracked down, jihadists moved in, and now it’s just too damn difficult to parse through the warring factions to figure out who can safely get weapons and other means of support from us without the support falling into the hands of ISIS/ISIL.

    • Jon:

      I know that ISIL and ISIS are identical. My question is why does the U.S. government insist on using ISIL when everyone else uses ISIS; that’s why I talk about the LCN/Mafia which is also identical but the government will not call the LCN the Mafia.

      ISIS may have had its roots in Iraq but it came to its present state of power during the Syrian conflict. The other informtion you provide on it is helpful.

      I’m not sure it ever could have been avoided. It was difficult to tell the good rebels from the bad rebels and sometimes they seem to merge together. The little I know tells me that there was never a significant moderate rebel group and that the field was mostly controlled by the best fighters who were the jidhadists. It seemed it was rightly felt that arming the moderates might have led to the arming of the jidhadists which as it turned out they were able to accomplish by taking over the Iraqi army weapons.

      The only solution is the one I think Obama is now following. He is encouraging those most threatened by ISIS, the major Sunni states, to join in the fight against them. These states such as Saudi Arabia which now feel threatened by the Sunni ISIS group were earlier supporting it because it threatened the Shiite regimes. It’s not our fight; it’s a Muslim conflict. We should stay out of it other than lending air support.

      • Matt,

        I think it’s pretty benign. ISIS seems to be what people what to use now, but only a year ago or so it was usually referred to as ISIL. For example, when al-Baghdadi began to defy Zawahiri in mid-2013, he released this message that was translated by SITE Intelligence Group:

        “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant remains as long as we have a pulse or an eye that blinks,” al Baghdadi says, according to SITE’s translation. The new entity “remains, and we will not bargain with it or back down from it until Allah the Almighty raises it above or we die without it.”
        Notice the use of the term Levant rather than al-Sham. So it’s just a matter of whether you use the Arabic term Al-Sham or the English term Levant. The group has evolved rapidly over the last year and the differing use of terms is probably just a matter of various intelligence reports by various intelligence agents in various agencies using one or the other, and thus U.S. leaders/spokesmen using one or the other as a result. Could simply be that at some point jihadists started making it a point to use “al-sham” in their propaganda.

        Simple point is that I don’t think the Mafia example is a good analogy. That really was just a “brain fart” by the FBI.

        For a brief look at the history of ISIL/ISIS with respect to Al Qaeda in Iraq, see the following report from April 2013 when al-Baghdadi announced the formation of ISIL:

        • Jon:

          Thanks – I’ll look into it a bit more but still you have to admit the US government is out of step with the rest of us.

  4. The “Mafia” is the government itself which is in collusion with a LARGE group of elite criminals who enjoy impunity. These beheadings are a load of crap. #EliteCrisisActors are assisting the US Government in terrorizing and defrauding its own population. The proof is unquestionable; the crisis actors have been identified and so have many of the top dogs who enjoy impunity including the CEO and Staff at A Step Ahead Prosthetics. Please ask Steve Silva of the Boston Globe if he goes by another name because he LOOKS JUST LIKE the brother of the fraud that is the CEO of A Step Ahead Prosthetics!!

    • LJ:

      I’m not with you on that comment. The beheadings are the real thing committed by a nasty group of jidhadists called ISIS. I hope you’re not inferring that somehow they did not happen. You think the families of the two men who were beheaded are involved in some conspiracy to fool the American people. I hope you’re not of that mind.

      I don’t know what your beef is with A Step Ahead Prosthetics. It seems to be performing a valuable service. Even were Steve Silva and the CEO of that group twin brothers, I’m not sure that it would matter one way or the other. Remember I’m not into putting the sins of one brother on the other even if there were some sins involved which I don’t see.

      Thanks for writing.

  5. Does the FBI intend to review the thousands of US citizens who have fought, are fighting, or will fight in Israel for Israel? Holders of dual citizenship are supposed to lose their passports if they join foreign armies.

    Matt, would you wanna bet the FBI will avoid this tar baby?

    • Henry:

      Will the FBI interfere with American fighting in the Israeli army, the answer is no. Will any of those who go over and fight for Israel lose their passports, the answer is no. (Or you must be joking.) You know what really gets me upset is these Americans wanting to join the IDF but have no interest in joining the American armed service. That to me is a slap in the face of this country and shows where their real loyalties lie.

      But you make me think of another thing. The secretary of defense Hagel said more than 100 Americans with US passports are fighting for ISIS. Why aren’t we revoking their passports? It’d seem to me that would be the first thing we should be doing.