Armed Forces

War on ISIS not job for lawyers or law enforcement. It’s the job of the military

Rice, Dempsey not on the same page?


Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in the Washington Times and on

Have you noticed that our war with the Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, seems more like watching an episode of “America’s Most Wanted”? Consider last week when we heard two legal-based law enforcement reactions to the problem of so-called American ISIS fighters.

On one hand, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” we heard FBI Director James B. Comey tell the world that American ISIS fighters have every right to come back to the United States if they want to. “Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport is revoked, is entitled to come back … So someone who has fought with ISIL with an American passport and wants to come back, we will track them very carefully.”

That’s right. These people who traveled to Syria to join and support an army of psychopathic mass murderers, will simply be “tracked” once they get back on our soil. 

The fact that we will allow them to return at all is bad enough (presuming we’ll be killing them on the battlefield is apparently off the table), but why Mr. Comey wouldn’t even commit to the American people that American ISIS fighters would at least be arrested the moment they step foot on our soil is inexplicable.


Compare this with the arrest last week of 19-year-old American Mohammed Hamzah Khan, who was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport before he could board his flight to Istanbul. Mr. Khan left notes for his parents making it quite clear he was running away from home not to join the circus, but to join the Islamic State. He is accused of attempting to provide material support for a terrorist organization, and will be adjudicated through criminal court.

So let’s see if we have this straight: If you have already been to Syria, joined up with the Islamist terrorist group, have been trained by psychopathic mass murderers to be just like them, likely killed innocent people yourself, and have returned to the United States with a plan to continue the jihadist orgy of head-chopping here at home, you’ll be “tracked very carefully.”

But if you write a note to your parents telling them you’re going to join the Islamic State and buy a ticket to Istanbul, you’ll be arrested at the airport and charged with something that could get you 15 years in prison.

I’d like both people to face military justice. 

Crazy, I know. 

For any American maniac who thinks it’s a good idea to become part of an army of terrorists and actually pulls it off, his justice should be found on the wrong end of a Tomahawk missile. After all, anyone disturbed enough to join Al Qaeda deserves to be introduced, by us, to Allah on the battlefield.

Ultimately, though, we must ensure there will be no “American ISIS” fighters. The moment anyone leaves this nation to hook up with Al Qaeda 2.0 is also the moment they’ve clearly rejected their American citizenship.

Besides assuring us ISIS terrorists with American passports would simply be tracked here at home, Mr. Comey also told CBS’ Scott Pelley that he thought there are a “dozen or so” Americans fighting with the Islamic State, and that the FBI knows exactly who they are.

Or maybe not. Just a few days after Mr. Comey’s comments, the FBI put out an alert asking for the public’s help in identifying a masked ISIS terrorist whom they describe as English-speaking with a North American accent. Seen in a 55-minute video released by the terrorists last month, this possible American is seen making his victims dig their own graves after which he and a few others are then seen shooting their helpless victims.

I suppose it’s a good thing the FBI is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying those who are committing crimes against humanity. Here’s the problem, though — President Obama’s team is approaching the war against the Islamic State as though it were an episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”

Whether it’s “tracking” terrorists returning to the United States or arresting those who want to travel to join the terrorist army, we’re seeing the dangerous shortcomings when law enforcement is in charge and treats war as though it were as banal as the hunt for a few odd criminals.

This revelation about the FBI and the increasing profile of Mr. Comey tells us something else: The military is actually not in charge, and it’s law enforcement leading what the president himself has called a “war.”

No matter how good he was as the first director of the FBI, would you have wanted generals such as Douglas MacArthur, George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower replaced by J. Edgar Hoover? Don’t look now, but it seems we’ve had Gen. David H. Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal replaced with Eric Holder Jr. and James B. Comey.

If we were annihilating the enemy, the Islamic State wouldn’t still be around inspiring the disturbed and disaffected, nor would the enemy be “coming home.” 

The last time I checked, in the 1950s after winning World War II we didn’t have fascists around the world rushing into Germany or Japan to “join the fight.” 

Why? Because there was no fight to join — everyone who started that worldwide conflagration was either dead or in hiding.

War is not a job for lawyers or law enforcement. It’s the job of the military. 

As Winston Churchill is commonly credited with saying, “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.