tv Hearing on the Evolving Threat of ISIS CSPAN February 14, 2016 12:20pm-2:28pm EST
the balance voluntarily then it is the committee's responsibility to pursue in any fashion and that we can because it isn't valuable to our future and i fear this isn't the toughest decision we will make with how technology might impact the world we are in. the american people expect us to exceed 72 individuals. you are on track to probably do that i am not sure we can turn around to see we have 11 because we cannot see inside the communications we
won't stand for that. i hope the work with the administration towards the save end goal. i want to take one last opportunity to take each of you for those who work for the american people at any given point in time the work force has been challenged to address of etfs over the of holidays and cannot imagine you were going through to track down the number of threats i don't think anybody had a comfortable holiday season in this year
saturday morning. byan autopsy is re-quested the family, el paso county medical examiner would likely perform it at the role home. scalia need to be flown tuesday back to his family in the northern virginia suburb. president barack obama has ordered flags to be flown at half staff. court and other federal buildings throughout the nation and u.s. and beat -- embassies and u.s. military bases around the world and we will show you last night's cbs debate with republican presidential candidates. >> this presidents' day weekend, book tv has two days of nonfiction books and authors on c-span2. here are some programs to watch out for. barry tracks --
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television for serious readers. >> brett mcgurk talked to the chair committee. -- testified before the house foreign affairs committee wednesday. talked about progress in reducing the oil output of isis, turkey's efforts to reduce its border with syria, the andnitarian situation, other countries in the region 80 in the conflict. -- aiding in the conflict. this is just over two hours. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] mr. royce: alright, this hearing will come to order. today we will hear from the administration's point man on its effort to combat isis. he is back before the committee again. now, this is an issue that this committee has raised repeatedly since isis first began its attacks, and we began calling for airstrikes against isis. so, it has now been two years
since president obama dismissed isis as the jv team. today the administration claims its goal is to degrade and ultimately destroy isis, but it still doesn't have a strategy to get that job done. the tide has not turned in terms of the growing influence of isis. instead, these fighters on the back of pickup trucks, to use the president's term, have grown into a global force. a force capable of striking in europe, in asia, in africa, and, yes, capable of striking here at home in the united states. there are now, in terms of groups supporting isis, there are 50 isis-linked groups on the ground in 21 separate countries. and it is everywhere in cyberspace. and everywhere in cyberspace, it
spews that deadly message to kill. ambassador mcgurk, just back from the front lines with syrian kurds, will note some encouraging developments. after some much needed loosening of the rules of engagement am a isis controlled oil installations in syria have been finally bombed, which is good. but these gains have been too slow to come. it draws recruits to plot new attacks abroad, including the united states. meanwhile, the iraqi government haven't been able to deliver as it should. sunni forces, key to any success, do not trust baghdad as they have failed to include them in the government and the armed
forces in a meaningful way. and across the region, the u.s. is perceived -- the perception there is we are only willing to back non-sunnis. region, the u.. is perceived -- the perception there is we are only willing to back non-sunnis. this only empowers isis and militarily the size of the recently announced special operations force to target isis leadership is a fraction of what past efforts have entailed. onlyirstrikes are still averaging 23 a day, a fraction of what a serious air campaign looks like. libya,failed state of where militants don't face a threat from the air, isis has doubled in size. these 6000 fighters are several
hundred miles from europe. they have their sights on libya's oil, a tactic which made it the world's richest terrorist group, and despite years of warnings, the administration's response has been feeble. in afghanistan too, isis is spreading. of the rules of engagement that were preventing our troops from targeting from targeting this deadly group. last week, airstrikes finally destroyed a radio station there in afghanistan. what took so long? propaganda operations are in overdrive, getting better every day. but our government's message to counter message remains in disarray. and when it comes to syria, tragically, the u.s. response
has been downright shameful. the slaughter goes on. train and equip failed. in december, the u.s. joined to join a resolution that asuired humanitarian aid part of its plan for peace talks. but rather than stand firm and put pressure on russia to abide by this resolution, secretary pushed resolution to the table. the result is predictable failure. as syria has imploded over the years, rather than tackle the problem, the obama and ministration -- obama administration has been paralyzed by a series of what t f's.
bombing relentlessly u.s.-backed sunni opposition is critical to the fight against isis. just yesterday, general stewart warned that isis will attempt attacks on the u.s. homeland, in his words, in 2016. if we are to truly defeat isis, and we must, the half measures and the indecisiveness must stop. the member from new york for any comments he may have. >> thank you very much mr. chairman, and to our witness, welcome to the foreign affairs committee. by youreen impressed service to our country, i want to thank you for.
you have notched another remarkable achievement negotiating the release of prisoners held in iran. today we are glad to hear from you against the fight against isis and the threat the group poses. the way they are adapting to challenges and growing, the united states has spearheaded a coalition with the goal of destroying isis. different countries play different roles. stopping the flow of foreign fighters, stopping humanitarian support, stopping isis propaganda. this shared burden prevents the united states from being drawn into another long war. we must defeat isis, but we
cannot and should not do it alone. isis has lost a quarter of the populated territory they once held in iraq and syria. the reality across the region remains grim. syrians flee in droves. assad has been given another lifeline. inacks continue to kill them -- women and children. iraq has also had to rely on shiitemilitary -- loyal militias local -- loyal to iran. gains greaterran influence iraq. region of thee a same grounds that led isis to thrive in the first place. same themes are playing out in libya and yemen.
vacuum, in the a absence of real stability, rule of law, and effective government, isis will fill the void. focusing on long-running tensions in these countries will go a long way towards denying isis safe haven. can have a good discussion on how the united states should continue to respond to the threat. how can we suspend the growth of isis, how do we stay one step ahead. sometimes, unfortunately it seems as if we are halfheartedly going after isis, and half hired it heartedly helping the free syrian army and others on the ground. as you know for many years i have been calling on aiding the free syrian army. i believe when they -- we did not aid them, they withered on the vine, and isis moved into the void. i hope that we will be part of a robust campaign. not a tentative one, not what it
seems that we dragging ourselves in, but a robust campaign to destroy isis and get rid of a sad.-- as we need our arab and middle east partners on the ground, the kurds and others to help, but i think we have to help -- lead, and i think it is important to do that. i look forward to hearing from a witness on the questions and others. i am glad that congress is staying engaged in various ways. another step we can take is to push for a robust foreign affairs budget. the budget request to congress yesterday, i hope that we on this committee will make all of the needed investments to meet these challenges and all of the challenges abroad. soon take upl authorization for the use of military force which gives the president what he needs to grapple with -- this threat without running the risk of another open-ended commitment of american forces in the middle east. for asking american service
number is to risk their lives in the fight against isis, we should at the very least i believe you are job as well. thank you mr. mcgurk, and mr. chairman, i am back. -- i yield back. >> thank you, mr. angle. tos morning we are pleased be joined by the special presidential envoy, brett mcgurk. promoted by the global coalition to counter isil. prior to this, he served as the deputy assistant secretary of state or iraq and iran. valuablek has been a voice in the administration, pressing for a more robust u.s. role, i appreciate that. without objection, the witnesses. air statement will be made part of the record. members will have five calendar days to submit statements, questions, and extraneous materials for the record. if you couldk
summarize your remarks, ambassador. brett mcgurk: thank you mr. chairman, ranking member angle, members the committee. it is a real honor to be here. i first appeared before this committee in november of 2013 to talk about then what we know as al qaeda in iraq, and the emerging threats known as isil have been back another time since then. i deeply value the partnership with this committee, and i thank you we leadership on this pressing national security issue. i was in iraq when moz oh fell in the summer, the situation could not have been serious. baghdad was under threat, thousands were massacred. securityof the iraqi forces, seven divisions, the situation seemed hopeless. we have to found -- building foundation to fight back. that required a new iraqi government, a better intelligence picture, and military strategy to strike isil and train local forces, .nd a political
strategy we also have to recognize this is a global challenge like none we have seen before. at one point with more than 30,000 foreign fighters from a hundred 20 countries all around the world. -- 120 countries all around the world. we acted aggressively, and now we see results. the progress is clear, which i will discuss, the challenges to our interest remain acute. as director of national intelligence said yesterday ,isil remains quote the preeminent terrorist threat. had we analyzeisil, how do we make sense of it. that is really weak we can effectively defeated. we analyze it in three categories first its core in iraq and syria, first -- second its networks around the world. , foreign finance, fighters and propaganda and third, affiliates, now of which there are eight. i will focus on the core, that is the key.
it is the phone a self-proclaimed caliphate that they have proclaimed. it is attracting people from all around the world. let me start with facts. has lost 40% of their territory in iraq, more than 2% in syria. . it is not one a single battle since. may as you can see in the map that i have projected here, the green areas are areas in which in the summer of 2014 we have now retaken from isil. 40% of territory does not matter. what is important is that it is strategic ground. to create an ramadi -- to akrit and ramadi are the examples. in syria, it is not just the data, it is what is on the map, the green taking away the entire border area which used to be controlled by daash.
the border is now green because of what happened in the city of kobani. i traveled to their last week, i was brought to the site of where wherepped supplies president obama ordered an airdrop of military equipment and supplies at a key moment in never 2014 when the battle was going to be lost. i spoke with one of the commanders, he said without the airdrop they would have been overrun. it was from that airdrop in working with the forces on the ground they were able to defeat isil 6000 fighters lost their lives in kobani. they were able to take away the entire border from isil. it is a testament to the fighters on the ground and the many challenges ahead. i was able to travel to syria because we have a presence on the ground there. there is no substitute. having a presence on the ground we gain better insight. with better insights we can act with more devastating effect. intelligentachshund -- our veteran intelligence
picture makes us able to eliminate leaders. our heroic special operators did a raid in syria not long ago in which they kill someone. there they collected more information than any operation in their history. we learned more than we could imagine about isil financial network. from there we pulled intelligence from the state department and intelligence community to relentlessly operate their financial -- uproot their financial apparatus. isil is coming fighter salaries by about 50%. we are seeing the effect they are having on their oil platforms and cash storage sites. let me go around the map briefly to bring you into the overall campaign and how we approach the court. i will start at number one, number one is a 98 kilometer stretch of border.
it is the only stretch of border that isil controls with turkey. it is there a moaning -- remaining soul outlet to the world. we have worked with our turkish partners. they are doing a lot. patrols,increasing sharing intelligence, setting up risk analysis, and conducting cross-border artillery strike. this is having an impact. it is harder forisil fighters to get into syria now, and once they are in it is harder to get out. that is our objective, once they get in, they cannot get out. the impact is in the numbers from our intelligence exists in -- assessment. about 31.5 thousand foreign fighters is andil, now it is down to 25,000. the site is starting to turn. we know from their own publications they are telling her fighters to not go to syria. there telling them to go to libya.
that is because it is harder to go into syria. their headquarters remain. that is why we will work with our local partners -- a collection of arabs and kurds to push on rocca and isolate them there. i will move quickly in interest of time over to iraq. i will skip to number five in muslim -- moz osul. there is about one million people there. it is a politically diverse city. . we have to work hand in glove we met with iraqi leaders in baghdad and with the kurdish leadership including the prime minister and others. we established a joint operational headquarters. tot is where we are going pool sunni fighters, iraqi , andity, with our advisors
iraqi commanders to plan the liberation of mosul. it will be across multiple lines of effort. it will not be a d-day like campaign. we are cutting off the road access. we are already doing airstrikes. we are learning more about what they're doing and osul. the liberation campaign has already begun. however, it will be a difficult and -- endeavor. will not put a timeline when it will be liberated. but it will. i will go to number seven which is to create -- takrit. it was depopulated by isil. not only that, but they killed 5000 people in the summer of 2014. iraqi security forces with our help, liberated the city. most importantly, we are focused on what comes after that. coalition andhe an international stabilization fund we establish with the government iraq and i give the
prime minister great credit in devolving powers to local leaders we have been able to return the population to takrit. the u.n. reported in rome last week that 98% of the citizens are back. i will go back to number eight on the map which is ramadi. that was the first to give against test for the iraqi forces since the collapse of 2014. this is an operation done entirely by the iraqi security forces and local sunni tribal life -- fighters. we have about 10,000 right now. i can discuss that in some detail. we have liberated look ramadi, but the city remains devastated. nearly every other home has iuds or is booby-trapped. i met with the governor, he told us specifically what he needs. without getting the counter id teams in their 2-d wire all of these homes, it will delay the return of the population. something we are working on now quite aggressively.
ira finally, mr. chairman, i can go through this map in some detail in my testimony, i want to point out number 11. that is where you see dark red. h isil, they will try to push into the soft underbelly of syria. dark rede small blotches heading towards jordan is something we are focused on. jordan is one of our closest partners. we are focused on their security. in october, the resident authorized latour assistance injured -- jordan. that includes a list hundred million dollars for border security to detect and a terror threat. i will be in jordan next week with a broad delegation including our overall commander campaign andr isil talk about the threats and to make sure they protect their border. briefs a very, very summary of the most complicated situation imaginable.
i look forward over the next two hours to answer all of your questions. i want to close were i began and thank this committee for the leadership you shown. i value this partnership. now we look to accelerate the campaign over the next year, i look forward to the close partnership i have had with you going forward. with that, i look forward to your questions. theriefly here, administration tasks a --asks about the partnerships. -- hezbollah and d collapse, will we have any free syrian army partners left? the other concern i have in terms of the sunni population, as i understand the shiite led
government in iraq is working to use the justice system to further push out the sunnis. if the central government in iraq is unwilling to make reforms needed in order to create a more inclusive government, and inclusive security forces, what will be left of iraq? effortll be left of this to include sunnis in our effort to put down isis. brett mcguirk: thank you. that is something we deal with every day. i will start with iraq. iraq just passed a budget through its counsel of representatives with a very important provision, article 40 of its budget. it allocates already percent of what you call the popular mobilization force comes from provinces actively fighting isil. almost 30,000s
sunni fighters enrolled in state security services to fight isil. we have almost 15,000. they are being paid. they are being paid about $680 to $750 a month. that might not sound like much to us, but the rural earning for an average worker is $36 a month. the private us or has put his money where his mouth is. it is reflected in the budget. he tells us every day he wants the local sunnis in the fight. we are helping. president obama made the decision to deploy u.s. such -- special horses to the air base east of ramadi. right in the heart between ramadi and falluja. out thered them immediately to get him back on their feet and integrate sunni tribal fighters into the fight. that has been a success. our special services are elsewhere working with three tribes actively fighting. we are gaining capacity in iraq on the sunni tribal fighters site. in syria, mr. chairman, you hit
me on the head. what is happening with a russian airstrikes is they are primarily focused on the opposition. what is happening with opposition forces we were working with to fight isil, if you look on this map, you can see the extent of isil's western advance. we were working to move east. that was a sophisticated in denver. as the russian -- sophisticated endeavor. as the russian airstrikes went on, it caused this problems. we tell the russians clearly, you say you are fighting isil, but what you are doing is having a detrimental effect of the fight against isil. this remains a serious concern. , in was going to ask also addition to this job, you helped negotiate the release of the americans being held by iran.
last you the families of these americans sat at this table. three of these tables are -- three of these families are overjoyed by your work, and of course we all want answers to mr. levinson's whereabouts. i'm concerned on the same debuts americans were released, the department sent i ran a check for another 1.7 billion on top of the 100 billion that was released at the time. i was going to ask what you know about the payment. i found in politics there are rarely coincidences. a state department spokesman said that iran raised this payment with you as part of the talks on the americans and iranian the siege commander call this 1.7 billion ransom in his words. as you know, i have submitted to tell questions to the secretary of the which we are anxious to receive.
brett mcguirk: this is a complex negotiation focused on prisoners. it was a parallel process. we had the air -- three areas of negotiations. there have been the tribunal process -- in that process over 30 years, almost 4700 private u.s. claims, every single private u.s. claim has been settled. all that is left is a few of these government to government claims. negotiation with our lawyers at the state department who have been doing this -- many for decades. i would be happy to discuss this in more detail. they were negotiating with iranians on a number of issues. they came to important agreements on fossils, artwork, and also an opportunity open to settle this important issue having to do with a $400 million fms claim.
the lawyers were able to close this out. that was important. they would be happy to talk to you about why this is in the interest of u.s. taxpayers, and the united states. we're facing substantial liability on this claim. we are at -- as i understand from the lawyers -- at the courthouse steps, there is going to be a judgment. it would have been potentially in the multiple billion dollars more than what we settled on. i think we have your questions, mr. chairman. i know we are looking forward to answering those. our attorneys working this every day will give you details. >> i think some of the details should have been shared during negotiations. let me raise this last point by you, the new visa waiver law we have passed. we now have a situation where foreign fighters travel to libya to train. it would be possible under that law to categorize foreign nationals who travel to libya is
qualified -- as qualified -- as not being qualified for visa pre-entry into the u.s.. i was wondering if you were involved in discussions with homeland security, or if the administration was on that problem. otherwise we may find some of the same challenges we found turkey, of syria, to europe, we had isis fighters who could have taken advantage of the visa waiver program. brett mcguirk: mr. chairman, i have not been involved in those discussions. i am very concerned about the situation in libya. >> i would like to get libya added to the list. thank you, i will go to mr. ingle. ingle -- engel: in aot recent op-ed in the washington post, nicholas burns, who we
know well and jim jeffrey concluded that relying on diplomacy alone will not be effective in syria. obamaid that i quote, the team would have to reconsider what it has rejected in the past. the creation of a saison in northern syria to protect civilians, along with a no-fly zone to enforce it,". a saison would allow for refugees to have a place to go, where they would not be under constant bombardment by russia or assad. seems a magnet for extremist, i no longer believe -- there rain only exacerbate the refugee crisis, making the saison i believe more necessary. secretary, and theaters -- patterson said last year, i quote, there is no option on the table, no recommendation by the defense department does not require a massive amount of severe support
-- of air support that would detract from the effort of isil. , under what circumstances with the administration consider supporting a no-fly zone? what are the challenges in establishing a flies in -- a no flies in? how has russian military impacted that? absent a saison, i don't know how innocent syrians protect themselves. brett mcguirk: it is something we look at all of the time. of internalnumber discussions about the possibility of establishing some sort of no-fly zone. you should talk to -- speak with some of my colleagues about the details and difficulties of actually establishing it. .t has been fully looked at everyone would agree that the situation right now is totally unacceptable. i am leaving tonight for munich
where we will have a meeting tomorrow with everybody in this national support group for syria. including saudi arabia, turkey, iran, russia, everybody around the table. there is a recognition that the situation is totally unacceptable. we are close -- were close in vienna not long ago to a cease-fire. we're going to work very hard over the few -- next few days to put in a -- in place a cease-fire. so long as this conflict is going on in the my job more difficult. the humanitarian consequences of this is just truly atrocious. we have to get to a way to deescalate this underlying conflict. underlyingate the conflicts there has to be a political process that could ultimately lead to a transition in damascus. the struggle we face from time to time is that the collapse of the regime in damascus would open up a vacuum terror groups are able to fill.
we want to have a political process that could lead to a transition. that is something that secretary .erry has been working on no one can underestimate difficulties. we are for progress on a cease-fire and most important liana humanitarian corridor. the russians claim they are cutting off weapons supply. there actually cutting off humanitarian corridors. at least they need to open up the human's hearing court or to all of the deceased areas the yuan has identified. u.n. has identified. >> not long ago we were saying assad has to go. now we are kind of hedging our bets and saying, well, assad can go at the end of them, as long as assad understands he cannot part -- be part of a new syrian coalition, doesn't it seem like we keep backtracking?
i think everybody looking at the serious situation recognizes the long as assad is in power there will never be a stable syria. too much as happened, the crimes against humanitarian -- humanity , everything he is responsible for, it is impossible. these conversations indiana, the russians understand. the iranians don't seem to understand. it is a fantasy to think the assad regime will be able to establish themselves of a syria. we have to find a way to have a political transition. it in a managed way through a political process that is not open further vacuums. congressman,ely, power ifnot remain in we ever get out of this incredibly difficult situation. as i mentioned, discussed with the chairman, my job on fighting push we had progress to
across the line, the russian airstrikes have told us forces to fight the regime. what russia is doing is directly enabling isil. that is one of the reasons we are getting together in munich tomorrow. this will be a very difficult three days coming up. we will be very firm. the situation is totally unacceptable. it is causing humanitarian catastrophe. it only fuels extremism on both sides. it fuels the hezbollah's, the isils. we have to come together, all of us and figure out a way to settle this conflict down. otherwise it will come to hot all of us -- haunt all of us. >> i have been having discussions -- the chairman and i have been having discussions with some of our sunni, arab they expressed to us
frustration at the united states not being more of a player that is deeply involved. we seem to be reluctant to be involved. the painted picture of the fact that they are ready to come forward if we come forward. if we lead. they are ready. --y describe a reluctant reluctance he on part of the united states to get involved. they say they believe that becauseoved into syria they knew that the u.s. was not moving and would not be able to do anything, or would not be willing to do anything against the russians. how do you answer that? they paint a picture of reluctance on our part. of us not really bleeding. they would be willing to be with us, but we are council trent -- a council trent.
brett mcguirk: we have u.s. forces on the ground in iraq and the area, we welcome our partners to join us in that denver -- endeavor. andave done damage to isil, we are looking for others to join us. that is so that is something where we have lead. secretary carter is meeting in brussels today with the defense ministers of the coalition. he's puttingings on members of the coalition, including members of the is il is a threat to you. isil is in audi arabia. we want them to do more. partners toof the do more. this is a constant discussion that we have. our interests don't always align with many of our partners interest. this is natural and foreign friends.th our this is something that we're discussing constantly.
i know the foreign minister was yesterday. he saw the secretary. we'll see him -- i know he saw a number of you. we'll see him in munich tomorrow approaches.ign our we try to get the focus on the threat and try to align our resources. when it comes to the regime, we processget a political on track. otherwise it is going to continue to go on. >> thank you. ros-lehtinen. thank you. we're seeing the assad forces.
the regime is on the brink of encircling the city in order to population with indiscriminately bombing areas. he testified for a question that for him in november. assad is a recruiting tool for isis. that it is not possible for us assad'st isis while massacres continue with iran and russia's help. what steps are the administration taking to prevent massacre of syria's remaining opposition. humanitariandrop supplies to the people of aleppo? going toomething we're do? you've said to the chairman and ranking member that russia is a problem. does the administration intend to take any measure to stop syria'srom bombing civilians? how can we justify asking the
itsan opposition to drop condition that the assad regime, iran cease committing these crimes against toanity as a condition continue the geneva talks? that answer.d to let me bring up two quick points. i wanted to ask you about the plans for the iraqi-jewish archiving. they stay in the united states? we have worked together with you. you've beenbecause engaged with this on the iraqi government. i don't want the state thesement to return precious artifacts and the and whatwish archives is the fate of the archives runr the exhibit ends the at my alma mater. that iran has been jcpoa,atized through the received billions of dollars in sanctions through which they can
rain of terror, what guarantees have you received from the iraqis? it up tobrought protect the residents of camp liberty from this newly strengthened and well funded regime in tehran. writtengive me a response on that. we will be providing aerial protection which is what the residents want now to the camp liberty residents? are we going to continue to pull in place or not? if you could ask the question we're doing to prevent a massacre and air top supplies and the role of russia? thank you, sir. you.cgurk: thank i want to thank you in particular for your cooperation issues with the iraqi jewish archives. we're honored they are in your district. the iraq dav, i worked on it quite a bit.
it is not my role. they are scheduled to run through the end of the year. let me take that back to the aate department to get you detailed answer. also on the mek. that's something i continue to follow. we've made progress in getting the folks out of iraq. i'll also get awe written answer on that. on the question of the humanitarian situation in syria, is completely unacceptable. the failure to provide humanitarian assistance is not only an international law obligation, it is anchored by the brand new security council resolution. this is something that we have open up the corridors period. first and foremost on the agenda get to munich is the humanitarian issue. there are besieged communities. are besiegeddy isil, some of the regime, some extreme elements of the opposition. all of them should have
humanitarian access. it is a principle of international law. to.s something we agreed it is part of the support group process. thes first and foremost on agenda in munich. i'm hoping we can come out of some agreements on that. >> thank you very much. thank you. david cicilline. mr. cicilline: i know it 50% of the energy supply and 50% of the revenues, a year sincellion 2014. who ist question is: purchasing the oil? you indicate there are 100
centralized management team as well 1,600 inundated personnel. are we doing to get to those individuals that are the terrorists organization? >> mr. mcgurk: thank you. isil's revenue is $500 million a year. $500 million from energy products. you know, it is purchased by a lot of middlemen. to tell exactly where it is going top the russian claims turkey is buying most of it. that's not true. of regime is buying a lot isil oil. it's sold to middlemen and goes to a third party. is hard to trace from isil to the end user. revenuea significant stream that we're now significantly degrading. they are not able to do what do in theable to past. we had a big debate amongst ourselves about when to target truckucks because the drivers, most of them, are
syrians.iraqi and what we did a very sophisticated we -- i won'tich say exactly how. we warned them if you are driving trucks here, your days going to be numbered. we were able to destroy about trucks in one shot with very collateral damage or civilian death. it has had a tremendous impact oilhe ability to move around. we're going to continue to do that. it is a fundamental priority of overall campaign, not just taking back territory, but sources.he revenue thel was able to target cash sites. that's hundreds of millions of dollars. the mosul no longer exists. mr. cicilline: we've seen isis promote as well recruit. i'd like to hear a little bit and howat we're doing
we're helping to counter the narrative. religious-based false argument, but an effective one. not something we can necessarily respond to. are there efforts underway so is responding aggressively in the same medium stem the flow of additional recruits and final at donori'll ask is conference i know there was of $1.2nt by germany billion. the same kindng of level of support from the arabia, uae, and kuwait. this is a huge humanitarian unprecedented magnitude. what can we do to encourage to play ar countries more generous role in dealing with humanitarian crisis? mr. mcgurk: let me address the
messages issue. isil -- we've looked at this in some details. they have three main messages campaigns. one is the glory of the themes of children eating ice cream cones and bring your family. a total lie, but it is a majority of the content. is a religious-based message. third which gets a lot of the gore.is that's the smallest number of their content. it at everying single level. hub.ve a 24/7 the uae. people from all around the region working 24/7 messages.the they've had a pretty good effect particularly with the campaign highlighted detectors in their own narratives and what ity told the world was like to be under the organization. i think we're making some progress now.
closely with twitter and youtube. down 125,000 sites. it gets easier. if you are doing a messaging easier when the team is winning. in 2014 when it looked like isil march, they put out the videos of the flag going syria and to rome, they can't say that with any credibility anymore. messages now and spokesmen and most of his statements are the fact explaining why they are losing so much territory. it has changed quite a bit. to remain at it 24 will 7.e there's a different message mess propaganda in east asia and europe. it's a different campaign there. 24/7.e to check that in terms of the arab
saudis put in the $500 million in direct humanitarian at a critical iraq. in i'll never forget that being in the iraq. theas a critical need and money went to good use and saved an awful lot of lives. get to you the donations at the recent london donor conference. i think there was some pretty good contributions. have to come back to you details. mr. cicilline: thank you. i yield back. chairman: thank you. >> welcome again to the committee. thank you for your good work. ask you a couple of questions. while the administration's focus isis, how is that impacting the growth? does the focus on isis risk allowing other groups to grow in strength and what is the plan to defeat it and other like-minded groups. let me ask -- you point out that coming from about 100 countries.
i'm wondering if the flow back and forth and how many are u.s. years to date? if you have that number. about groups like haram, are terrorists making their way to isis and back again? flow there?no and you do talk -- i'm glad you degrading the global affiliates. example, with haram trulyoca nigerians how to do counterinsurgency on an order help make them more
-- saudi arabia has been focused on the conflict in yemen, something we had discussed quite a bit, so we are constantly engage with them about what the particular role can be and i don't want to get a have a -- at of the process but that is something that secretary carter is discussing in brussels today, including saudi arabia. he the reason to be fully invested in this fight not to be just military as was mentioned earlier, it is also the humanitarian of the civilization side. in iraq, as i mentioned, these are iconic sunni cities that have been cleared of isis and now we want to return the population to get back on their feet. the internally displaced in iraq, most of them are sunni, many of them are women and girls and they need help.
on the humanitarian side, that is something where the region, we are very hopeful can step up and a fairly aggressive way because we have the programs in place, we have the support of the iraqi government in place, to help people, but it is an issue of resources and one thing that has really hampered this quite a bit is just the collapsing price of oil, which i can go into some detail. facingng is -- iraq is millions of dollars -- they are producing more than 4 million barrels a day. that is because of decisions the government has made an decisions we have made with them and that is a real testament to their progress, but the falling price of oil has just greatly impact of their budget situation, depleted the resources we hoped to have to deal with some of these hereditary and problems. it is something where the region, we are hopeful that they can contribute.
>> i was surprised in a recent statement that saudi arabia made that the united states but troops on the ground and they would be right behind us. i wondered why that had to be something where -- those of a once upfront and not the unit since of america, so when i heard that statement, i wonder whether or not they had further engagement or not and whether they have shown, and i know about yemen, but have they shown because isis will a threat to them, also, so whether they want to step up. same thing to some regard with turkey and what they may or may not be doing. my me ask you what they made -- may not be doing with regard to isis, what about turkey? turkey has an agreement with
them to base our airbase which is dramatically increasing the flying time to be able to strike isis targets and we are grateful for the agreements we have reached with turkey. -- has really worked to secure its borders. it is much harder for these foreign fighters to get into syria then it was. turkey is also caring for 2.1 million refugees from syria. turkey is doing an awful lot. militarily, they are doing some very important airstrikes north of the country. right now, we are working with them to get them back in the campaign, because the conflict with -- the tension between turkey and russia after turkey shot down a russian plane after it violated their airspace kind of complicated the picture, us
that is something we are working closely with turkey on, the we are comfortable with their contributions. they are a critical nato ally of ours. >> thank you. >> thank you for your service when you mentioned in the beginning of your testimony that -- had left this world with our whoth, is of the same guy was in power in afghanistan 20 years ago? individual who was a legacy al qaeda in iraq, very much from the iraq syria theater. >> is not the same guy who was the financer?\ >> not that i am aware. ,> how many fighters do we have
how many people are fighting a assad?a sod -- i cannot put a number on it, the uppermost estimate of our opposition fighting is about 70,000 fighters all the way from the south to the north. those are split into hundreds of different groups, so to bring coherence to that is very difficult. >> are there any of those anti-assad fighters who are fighting isis at this point? before the russian airstrike campaign, we felt good about some coherent and capacity that we were gaining along that moral line which is on the map that i projected. since then, and one of those guys have peeled off to the regime, which has not been helpful with the isis campaign.
>> let us note that this administration has told us before that there will be no stability unless we get rid of so and so or so and so and in fact, the opposite has been true. in libya in particular, which you outlined today, was a catastrophe. we were told by, almost in the same words you used, there will be no peace until we get rid of fact, that is why we have to help the non-qaddafi forces and now we have testimony that isis is on the verge of taking over libya. let me note that i did not see a threat toad as ever a the united states. >> he gave sustenance to hezbollah and other terrorist groups for years. >> he was never a threat to the
united states. republicans made a mistake, we backed our president when he said we have to get rid of saddam hussein. it looks to me that all of this chaos and confusion that you are describing today that is unfortunately in your lap started when we made a mistake and got rid of saddam hussein because he is a bad guy and committing atrocities against his own people and that is destabilizing the whole region, that led to many thousands more people being killed. i would think, frankly, from a distance, it looks like assad is in that same type -- fighting him is the same type of situation. fighters are foreigners? meaning from other areas -- other than syria and iraq. total number of foreign
fighters are above 30,000, but many of them -- it has decreased quite a bit, so foreign fighters fighting with isis now, i would put that around 15,000 or so. >> how many of those come from plaisance like chechnya -- places like chechnya? -- onajor battle for the from last year and we were picking up mostly the fighters that our guys -- >> we have all of these thousands of radical islamic -- whost fighters and come from russia and chechnya, so the russians may have something more important for them to be involved than for us to be involved because they have had fighters from the country.
let me just say the idea that the turkish -- that you don't know -- that we don't know where those trucks are going and whoa is purchasing the fuel is unacceptable. let me say before the russians started bombing those trucks, which is then ignited this outrage from turkey that before they did this body and this committee saw evidence day after day after day of trucks loaded with fuel and supplies and money and wealth that would go in to isil. they were just not touched. they were -- how much evidence do we have? overwhelming evidence that they that this administration wasn't doing a thing about it. once the russians started, then we did.
i think that this idea -- if i could just correct the record since you raised the point. once the french started, it was the french after the attack in paris that was attributable to isis forces. the french made the decision to hit those targets on the open highway. mr. rohrabacher: let me note the russians were doing that. we haven't been able to ask. let me just say people who aren't a threat to the united states of america and the terrorists network for around the world, we should be working closely with anyone like that who is not a threat to us. whether they oppress their own people, i'm sorry. we did not like saddam hussein and the but we did by getting rid of him. there are a number of cases like
this. our question shouldn't be how to get rid of assad and spending lots of attention and resources on that. our vision should be how do we get rid of isil and the radical islamicist who will terrorize the western world? and murder us if they get a chance? thank you very much. mr. chairman: thank you. now mr. gerry connolly of virginia. >> thank you. i want to concur on the critique of the reckless foreign policy of bush. i want to associate myself with those remarks. >> absolutely. >> i will point out though that some of the current critique, like libya, it would be fun to replay video of my colleagues who criticized president obama for not being more involved in libya at time. for being too reluctant or not taking the lead and being at the forefront of the revolution against gaddafi.
now we're promoting the fact -- bemoaning the fact that stability was a victim as well as the gaddafi regime. that was then. this is now. welcome ambassador. let me start with russia and one of the favorite topics of my friend from california. how concerned are we that russia's airstrike in syria are non-isil focused? they have targeted either deliberately or coincidently non-isil groups that we were hoping to use as part of the coalition against assad. mr. mcgurk: very. it is a human problem. -- it is a huge problem. >> would you say that louder? mr. mcgurk: it is a big problem. they were hitting groups ready to fight isolate -- isil.
this is where we have to be honest. they are hitting 70% of the airstrikes against the opposition. many of the groups are ready to fight isil. >> we have a situation where the russian activity in syria is directly in conflict with western goals. is that correct? would that be fair? mr. mcgurk: you can't put in total back and white terms. there are some overlapping interests. they are hitting isil. mr. connolly: given the fact you said 70%. mr. mcgurk: in strategic locations, there airstrikes have helped isil. mr. connolly: is the united states prepared to do something about that decides a diplomatic protest? -- besides a diplomatic protest? mr. mcgurk: i think we have to focus on the dip plotmatic process. that's why we have to get together tomorrow in munich. we have to be thinking ahead if it doesn't work. >> yes. all right.
i think it was frederick the the great visit one need to be bold. i hope diplomatic protests work. we cannot afford to have russia counter our activities which have been difficult and hard to piece together on the field in syria. it just seems to me we will need to maybe follow frederick the great's advice. tell me a little bit about the complications of working with the kurds? from my point of view and i think a lot of my colleagues on the committee, they are pro-americans. they are willing to fight on the ground. they have had territorial gain. they have beaten isil on the battle field more than once. they are critical in looking at the looming fights with respect
to aleppo. but they've got problems with the central government and they've had other problems with some of our allies in the region like turkey. how complicated is the relationship and what ought to be the u.s. posture with respect to training, equipping, and financing? mr. mcgurk: i'll start on iraq. there's what used to happen under the government of maliki which has been difficult. every sing many shipment of weapons and supplies have gone. nothing has been held up. zero. mr. connolly: they are not paying the soldiers. mr. mcgurk: a lot of people in iraq are not getting paid. what's happening now in terms of the oil allocation, the kurds are exploiting their oil on
their own and keeping the revenues. they are not getting the revenues from the south. which is actually an equitable exclang. as i mentioned, iraq has focused every single month now a $5 billion funding deficit. that's a problem writ large. for the kurdish, there's about a $400 million monthly gap. the salaries are about $50 million a month. we want to focus on this in a holistic way in working with the world bank, imf, and i think the budget request will have some recommendations for how to help the iraqis here. we want to focus on it holistically. the kurds will have what they need to be successful in the mosul campaign. no question about it. i'll see the president in munich. i'll look forward to seeing him. the prime minister will be in munich. when i was in iraq, a senior delegation from the kurdish regional government was in
baghdad. that relationship is very good. we want to keep it that way. the kurds in the north of iraq have a lot of political divisions that i encourage them as a close friend of theirs to try to find a way to resolve. when the isil wolf was at the door, everybody was united. everybody was united particularly in the moment when , the iraqi kurdish -- they went through to fight. an historical moment that i was a part of. now the isil threat has receded, all the divisions have opened up. there's divisions between the north, and divisions in the northern iraq. our message to them is this fight is not over. the entire southern border is controlled by isil. so long as that is the case, there's not going to be a stable situation there. our advice is to unite against the threat against isil. despite all of the differences,
a lot of differences. meanwhile we have to help them with the financial difficulties. that's something i look forward to working with the committee to do. mr. connolly: i'm glad to hear that. i think that's essential. we need to be providing that financial support, because they are willing to fight. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman: thank you. ted poe of texas. isis is deliver the targeting christians. they have been executed by the thousands. clergy and jihadist and mosul stamped the homes of christians with an n for nazareth and they want to convert to their way of thinking or you die. christian females were sold in slave markets. three of them were featured by
"the new york times" magazine last summer. the'magazine endorses enslavement of christian girls and selling them on the marketplace. the pope has said this is genocide. i mention these things to get your attention. specifically on this issue of genocide. the omnibus bill that the administration determine whether or not religious minorities like christians, shiite-muslims, assadis suffer the specific by the hands of isis by march the 18th. can you give us insight on whether or not the united states will take the position on what isis does against religious
minorities is genocide or not? mr. mcgurk: thank you, congressman. we're focused on that request and our lawyers are deeply -- as i said, genocide is a specific term. it is a legal determination. we're looking at it, i believe, across the board. there's no question everything that you said is true and more. what isil has done to the chrisian community and to minority communities throughout particularly iraq and syria is unbelievable. then on top of it destroying our common heritage and culture and ancient history. this is why we have to destroy the terrorists organization. period. what we want to do is return christians to the homeland. that's something we're very focused on. we meet regularly and deal with the archbishop in baghdad. i try to see the patriarch to try to return the christian communities to their homes.
one thing that drives us all, in fact particularly for the campaign in the northern providence near mosul, is to help us do that. they've been driven out of their homes in the most atrocious manner possible. we have to work to get them back. in sinjar, they liberated them from isil. about three or four months ago. very successful operation. sinjar is where they came in and enslaved thousands and killing many of the young men and taking off the women, thousands of them to enslave the women. this is why we have to destroy the barbaric terrorists organization. an response to a specific request about genocide determination, that is something that lawyers are working on right now. mr. poe: do you see why the administration won't be able to comply with the verdict? mr. mcgurk: no. we'll meet the deadline, i think. mr. poe: i have the omnibus
bill -- i had put in a strategy to defeat isis. it was passed in to law there would be a strategy of what we're going to do to defeat isil by june 18th. or as i think there's no real concrete strategy to defeat isis, not contain but defeat isis. june 18 is the deadline. do you see any reason why we won't be able to get the strategy? mr. mcgurk: we're going to suffocate this network every single which way. it is an anaconda strategy. constant pressure. the financial network, the foreign fighter network, the ability to control the territory. that is what we are doing across the board. in iraq and syria, we're working to take away the territory. the global networks.
we're looking to cut off and slice the foreign terrorist. mr. poe: we'll have a strategy to defeat isis that's concrete. the train and equip, that was a disaster. and the president even said that was a disaster. i'm not going to be argumentative. when we have a concrete strategy so the american public and bubba knows what the united states is going to do to defeat isis? do you see why we won't have any writing for the american people by june 18? that is really the question. mr. mcgurk: we have a strategy now. mr. poe: part of it is not working? that's my question. the same thing or a concrete strategy and something we'll understand and defeat. we go after the oil fields and trucks. but don't bum oilfields and things like that. tactics. mr. mcgurk: the things that haven't worked we have adjusted. i'll follow up with you on more details.
mr. poe: we'll see the strategy by june 18. i yield back. >> karen bass of california. mrs. bass: they were asking you about boko haram and africa. i would like to focus some of my questions there as well. one of the things that have been just a little frustrating is when we think of boko haram and isis and knowing they have their reign of terror that has continued every day and at the end of last year killed more people than isis did. i'm concerned, especially with what's happening in libya, the deterioration of libya and knowing when libya first fell it essentially led to a coup in mali. i'm wondering what you are
seeing now, especially with isis increasing its involvement in occupation in libya. what do you think and see the fallout being in other countries? mr. mcgurk: as i mention, libya remains a focus. libya is where -- unlike the sil, it is aefore idi preexisting terrorists problem. the fact that they have raised an isil flag doesn't change the nature of the problem. isil in libya is different. in libya what we're working hard to do -- one of my colleagues a special envoy for libya, jonathan weiner, we were just in rome together for the coalition meeting on isil. we worked to form the government of national accord and the unity government in libya. and hoping to get that done very soon. the u.n. special enjoy is also a close friend of mine. -- envoy is also a close friend of mine. i worked with him for years in iraq. we need a foundational partner.
he's been working day and night to get to done. we have to have that. i mention the summer of 2014. it was very important to get the new iraqi government. they had just had an election. it was going through the process. how did we come in to iraq in a major way before we had a government and foundational partner? it would have been hard to build the coherence that we needed to push back effectively and aggressively. so the sequencing in libya is to try to get the national government formed and to work with it to come up with a strategy to begin to combat libya. i will say that it takes sometime. we see threats emerging to the own national security interest. the president has shown he will take military action in libya. that's why we killed the overall leader. those sorts of things will continue to be ongoing. the political and military is quite intertwined. and so we are hoping to get the government very same. representative bass: while we're doing that, i understand the importance of that, are you seeing any involvement in terms of the isil folks moving south
or moving weapons? that was the situation in mali. while we're working to stabilize the government and i absolutely understand that. mr. mcgurk: what i've seen is the flow north to libya. primarily. they try -- they seem to be -- in libya doing what they did in syria and establishing the state-like structures and insert on the central coast. you can see training camps popping up. they are trying to establish the state-like structure. their own -- the magazine and their own open source magazine says, you know, come to libya. they are trying to flow the resources to libya. if they can establish themselves there in a very rooted way and get rooted, then the risk will be if it flows outward. we're going to try to make sure they can't do that. representative bass: back to boko haram.
i understand it was preexisting and the significance of them raising the flag if it was more symbolic. are they getting any resources -- any financial resources from isil or just symbolic? mr. mcgurk: we have seen the media coordination. some of the media products have been more sophisticated. not the type of direct weapons flow and finance because they were already a self-contained entity. we have to work with nigerians to get at the problem period. whether they call themselves isil, it doesn't matter. it is a fundamental problem. representative bass: the attacks that took place in mali, what do you know of that in terms of the the relationship to al qaeda? mr. mcgurk: we don't want to paint with too sharp of a brush. al qaeda often has the same
goals. that was an al qaeda attack, not isil. it doesn't matter if isil or al qaeda is attacking hotels. these are huge problems. the french have taken a major lead on the mali side. they have degraded the network. it is still able to launch attacks like that. >> thank you. >> mr. cook of california. representative cook: thank you for being here. i don't enjoy your job. very, very difficult. i don't have your sense of optimism about syria with the russians supporting them. i think it is going to be tough. picking up on the question on the turks and kurds. point-blank, is there any hope for a separate homeland for the kurdish team? i don't think geography favors it. we've disappointed the kurds so many times. after all their fighting and
everything else, particularly with the pressure with the kurds, i just don't -- i think we're going betray them again. can you comment on that? mr. mcgurk: the kurd -- i've dealt with my friends for almost a decade now. you are right, there's a historical memory of what happened to the kurds after world war i. which is something we have to recognize and be sympathetic to. the kurds in northern syria that we've developed a relationship with in the counter-isil campaign. they have the same and similar historical narrative, however at this moment in time creating new independent states, is not something that would be particularly stabilizing. when it comes to the northern iraq and as i mentioned before something of that can be
discussed, you have to get isil off of the southern border of it -- it is all jihads on the entire southern border. second the economic situation has to stabilize. third the political situation has to stabilize. right now i think the kurds of northern iraq recognize this. nobody is trying to do the impossible in create a unified iraq that is a glowing -- growing democracy. a federal iraq which is gained -- defined in the constitution and empowers local leaders and empowers the sunnies and providences and empowers the kurds and it is something that realistic is interwoven and something we support. mr. cook: thank you. the other question is i just got back from the middle east. a couple of things. do they help our pilots eight hours flying down there? i don't know how they do it. i really don't. the problem is in the past the
kurds -- excuse me the turks have been, well, we'll call -- we'll control all of the air operations on influence. i just hope that doesn't go back to the way it was a year or two years ago where they had almost complete control of the air ops and what was going in. i know that's a military question. very, very nervous about the politic and how that affects that particular base. i'm not sure sometimes why we even have this here other than it is close. mr. mcgurk: that's a question for the military colleagues. i've been there. i have met the pilots there. the agreement is that those planes fly within the air coalition of the counterisil campaign. which is coordinated out of qatar. every day there's an air tasking order which goes out.
those planes are integrated with that. it is part of the overall cohesive campaign. representative cook: i just got back from qatar. i'm nervous about the politics of turkey. the last question that i had was about saudi and the gulf states. sometimes we're lead to believe their number one focus is isil. no. the impression i had is it is all about the war in yemen. their forces and everything else. yeah, yeah, we're committed to that. the states that i talked to it is all about what's going on with yemen and particularly the influence of the saudis in leading that coalition there. could you comment on that? mr. mcgurk: you are right. yemen is a primary focus. you have have a different conversation from riyadh and abu dhabi -- this is not home homogeneous.
>> i'm looking at the resources going into yemen. >> it is right on their border. i understand. we consider isil the most fundamental threat. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. mr. higgins of new york. representative higgins: thank you. isil has proven to be effective at fundraising. estimates they were raising about $3 million a day. originally through oil revenues and the sale of oil through the black market and then through territorial gains where they could tax the people and provided services and tax and provide protection and basically operating a corrupt society where by they could gain a lot of revenue. how much is known about isis
funding from the sunni-arab countries, particularly saudi arabia, who i think views the threat to them iranian territorial gains in iraq clearly with the direct involvement and in syria under a government which is a very anti-shiite. my question is: saudi arabian influence in helping to finance isis terrorists activity? mr. mcgurk: we don't see any indications of that. the saudis have been close partners for sometime. what makes them different is that they don't really rely on outside financing and funding. when there was some evidence of that, we have worked with kuwait and others who have shut that down. my colleagues in the treasury department have done a great job on that.
but what makes isil different because as you said, it controls vast swaths of territories and millions of people under its control, and it acts through taxes and extortion to have the revenue base. so to cut at the finance streams very early on a couple of years ago, we must have said there would be a lot of outside funding. but in fact it is locally generated. that's why we are -- it is true. the french were led in this after paris. we helped them. cutting off their ability to move oil and cutting off their ability to move energy supplies and their ability to store cash which is something we've done in mosul. to cut off the finances, you have to focus on the core in iraq and syria where it is controlling territory and resources. mr. higgins: how many airstrikes in the last year? mr. mcgurk: it is about 10,000 nows.
i can get you the breakdown. total airstrikes as of yesterday 9,901.0 91 -- the u.s. has conducted more than 7,000 of those. the rest of the coalition about 2,300. representative higgins: in the past year isis has lost 10% of the gains in iraq and 10% of the gains in syria? mr. mcgurk: yes. representative higgins: the one thing that's can assistant in reading michael weiss' book, and "the black flags" the one thing that seems constant about isis is change. isis has evolved its reach and organizational ability. the isis presence in libya, i think, is particularly disturbing. it is a pivotal stronghold in north africa. africa is -- there's a lot of
instability to exploit. you've got 55 countries. many of which are very, very unstable from south sudan to -- just there's a lot of countries. my concern is that while we may be influencing a loss of territorial control in iraq and syria, what about the isis threat in expanding in to other countries and the continent of africa. mr. mcgurk: it is a great question. as we analyze this and discuss it with intelligence servicing -- services and the governments and all of the different capitols around the world, the common theme that we hear -- i mean i've heard this from malaysia to brussels to the gulf is that this notion
of the caliphate is what is drawing so many young people to this dangerous movement. that's why we're focused on the core in shrinking the overall territory. in the narrative, it was one of the expansion and conquest. we had to show you are not expanding, you are shrinking. you are not going to live the glorious life of ice cream cones. which is in the propaganda. you are going to die a miserable death. some of the people want to go die a miserable death. we're happy to oblige them. we have to shrink the phony , the phonyphate notion of the caliphate in order to dry up the global network. that does not mean there won't be a global jihadist terrorism problem under different banners. that's something that's going to be with us for sometime. >> thank you. >> thank you. my florida colleague, mr. desantis. representative desantis: you said there would be a problem. i agree with that.
i noticed in your written testimony there wasn't a reference to iran or hezbollah with the effect of -- respect to the destabilizing role they play in iraq and syria. they've murdered sunni civilians and assad drives people -- sunni-arabs between the militant and shiite force or government backed by iran and isis. many of them are driven to i isis. was the exclusion of iran to the problem deliberate or was that something that you omitted? mr. mcgurk: no. certainly not. let me take it on directly. when mosul fell in the summer of 2014, they issued saying everybody rise up and protect the country. it was a really commit call -- it was really a critical moment. have they not done that i think
, it would have been very hard to check. they were on the rampage. it caused a massive panic. you had about 80,000 volunteers rise up to join the ranks of iraq. most of them are shiite from the south. most of them are nationalists who answer to the government. there's a segment of them, you 15,000 who0,000 to are actually answered to militias better controlled by iran. this is a huge concern for us and the government of iraq. it is a huge concern for prime minister. when he was here in washington he said publicly that if iran is operating outside of the soil, it would be a hostile act. he has been very clear about this. when we see abuses and violations of human rights, the government of iraq has acted. just recently there were reports shia militia violence in the providence. it's always been a hot bed on both sides of the sectarian divide. the prime minister went to the sight twice. they've arrested nine of the individuals.
it was part of the investigation. this a serious problem. something we are focused on all the time. we don't want to paint all of the volunteers, many of them are shia with the same brush. that wouldn't be true. representative desantis: they have touted some of the places like ramadi. my understanding is in his power to let by shia forces, including some iranian-backed forces. what are you doing to empower the sunni tribal forces and the sunni tribal elders? because it seems to me that driving isis out of ramadi is desirable, but the notion that the sunni arabs will be happy living under forces were government they see a dominated by iran and shia that's going to , be a tough sell.
mr. mcgurk: i very much agree with you. when it come to ramadi, it was the government of iraq to make sure it was conducted by the iraqi security forces and iraqi counterterrorism forces and local sunni tribal fighters. representative desantis: they were integrated with the security forces? mr. mcgurk: they were integrated. it was not part of the campaign. that was very important. we wanted to show that iraqi security forces can do it and whether sunni or shia, local scene of the territory and the neighborhood and know it is like to know the alleys in the back streets, they get locals invested in the fight. we have about 10,000 of these tribal fighters invested in the fight. i did the figures earlier in my testimony. it's a constant effort. we have full support from the governor of the providence in anbar. they are working closely with us. we have two platforms. we're working every day with the
iraqi security forces and the tribal fighters to get them in the fight. they are making real gains. they weren't just on defense. now they are move on offense and doing operations. it is moving the right way. >> just a final question will be with respect to the kurds. i think a lot of my colleagues have shared their view. i think they are pro-american forces that we should be supporting. turkey does not accept the actions of a lot of the kurds. there's problems there. you have one of our nato partners essentially opposes some of the battlefield allies. can you address the convict between turkey and some of the kurdish fighters? mr. mcgurk: let me say turkey faces a real
threat from the pkk. we have to recognize that. the conflict between turkey and the pkk, which flared up and
began and run the timeline when they killed a number of turkish police officers. i've been clear about that. turkey has the right to respond in its own self-defense. at the same time, the conflict has escalated to the point where we want to work very hard to try to deescalate it. the vice president discussed this last week. the more it is going on, the more it drives people to the ranks of the extreme militarism. which is very dangerous. we want to protect turkey against the pkk. that's something we're going to continue to help them do. we also want to strengthen the kurds in northern syria. they are joined a conglomeration , build a coalition force with arabs and christians under the banner of the syrian democratic forces. they put out a political platform. it makes clear they want to be part of syria. it makes clear they want
to have positive relations with their neighbors. that means turkey. they don't want to interfere in the relations. it means distances with the pkk.
this will remain a work in progress. it is something we're going to work on every day. we will continue to work with turkey to protect itself against pkk militarism which is extremely dangerous and killing turkish soldiers and police officers every day. >> thank you, sir. now mr. sherman of california. representative sherman: i know the visa waiver program was mentioned earlier. the idea that those who visit -- i want to point out the waiver program is not the rightly extend to all of europeans or in reducing it. it doesn't show we would hate europeans. we don't provide the waivers to people from brazil. we love brazil, et cetera. i believe you don't have a lever -- these a waiver cut -- visa waiver relationship with any
south american allies. those who visited syria and iraq to work with isis don't have a stamp on their passport from syria. they don't have a stamp from iraq. they have a stamp on their passport for turkey. we ought to look at whether we should provide the visa waiver. to those who have visited turkey. we have to look at the european friends and make sure they don't give a new passport to somebody who doesn't like the stamps on their old passport without telling us it did have a stamp from libya or iraq or turkey. i do think we will have to look at this the so waiver idea -- visa waiver idea. as long as they can get a new passport that does not and have visa waiver without letting us know they visited turkey and saudi -- syria or iraq. or libya. i want to focus on the questions. we were serious and world war ii. we had a strategic bombing program designed to destroy the economic capacity of europe.
i believe we killed 90,000 french civilians. and then we were welcomed by the french people as liberators. we were serious in the war. we won the war. paides de gaulle never french civil servants and occupied france. he did not arranged to provide food and fuel to those living in exploited -- na zi-exploited occupied france. the iraqi government has told us they finally stopped paying the civil servants in the isis-occupied areas. is that true? are civil servants who live in isil or isis-occupied territory able to leave and get their money and drive back to mosul or have they finally stopped paying people who are taxed by isis?
or don't you know? mr. mcgurk: no, i've worked on this quite a bit. the iraqi government made a decision passed through the cabinet last summer -- representative sherman: i have limited time. are they still paying the soul servants or not? >> no, they are not. if somebody drives down, can they pick up the money? mr. mcgurk: if they are living in mosul, they shouldn't be able to do that. representative sherman: check on that. i'm told they can. we also have a bombing and world war ii, we bombed electric generation facilities. and iraq the iraqi government provides free electricity to isis. are we willing to bomb the transmission lines through which
the free electricity flows? mr. mcgurk: the problem is the electricity comes from the mosul dam. we have to keep it running. representative sherman: keep it runs. but why use it to supply electricity to isis? >> is a sophisticated electricity issue. >> it is not a sophisticated question. it is a sophisticated political question. you don't have to send the electricity. don't tell me the dam breaks if you don't send electricity to the energy. -- the enemy. mr. mcgurk: by keeping the dam running -- representative sherman: the dam should be running. you don't have to send electricity to isis. >> we don't want electricity -- >> bomb the transmission lines right outside -- inside or outside of isis-controlled territory. >> it is something we have looked at. >> you have looked at it but you
won't tell us why you are not doing it. why does the iraqi government provide electricity to most of our free -- mosul for free? as at the same approach we took in world war ii we were serious? mr. mcgurk: probably different. nobody is more anti-isil than the guys in the government. there's a debate about -- we don't want to drive the population in to the hands of sil in some of the areas. the issue of electricity is something that gets you a detailed-specific answer. >> we had a zero civilian casualty approach to our strategic bombing. we were not hitting the tanker trucks. if we had a zero civilian casualty -- >> you are over your time. finish your question. >> and world war ii we hit train and trucks and factories.
are we hitting isis economic targets even knowing it will kosovo you casualties? mr. mcgurk: yes, we are hitting the trucks. we're trying to do it in a way that limits the possibility of killing the truck drivers. we figured out a way to do that. representative sherman: are we willing to hit the trucks while they are being driven? mr. mcgurk: well -- we figured out a way to hit the trucks in the trucks are not being driven -- >> in other words you are only going to hit them when they are parked. >> thank you. >> mr. yoho. representative yoho: thank you. i feel the same way. is the administration planning on dropping humanitarian aid to aleppo?
pretty much a yes or a no. >> i think we are looking at all options on the humanitarian side. >> that doesn't really answer it. that reminds you of the president's budget that says national security and global leadership in the presidential budget. and that's why the united states is leading the global coalition that will destroy the islamic state of iraq and the budget provides for over $11 billion for the dod. that's like wanting to learn to play the piano and you buy the piano and put in the money for lesson, but you don't practice. i hear a lot like we're looking at it. we're looking at the safe zones in syria by jordan and by turkey. we're looking at that. we've been studying that for years. at some point, it has to be acted upon. i want to follow up with mr. sherman's comments that the reasoning to continually not bomb these transports vehicles
with oil. when the no-fly zone that was initiated by the administration along with hillary clinton to create a no-fly zone that lead to a failed state, the fall of gaddafi. now libya is an isis recruited and training center. wire announces bombing them like mr. sherman said? and world war ii we had a strategy. yes, that is a fallout of worker brought the war to an end. we are looking at options for four years or five years now. close to 300,000 people have died. we have been looking at maybe putting pressure on that and we are still studying but nothing happens we have the largest . we have the largest migration of refugees around the world because of the failed policies of the administration. what are we doing?
when are we going to stop doing and start acting stronger? and leading? mr. mcgurk: i was just in the streets where they killed isis -- isis 6000 leaders. they killed 6,000 in that battle alone. we've destroyed 400 tanker trucks. the idea that we're just watching this is -- mr. yoho: when they were destroyed? what time? the last six months? mr. mcgurk: last four or five months. >> we've known about this for years. why is ice is having oil production facilities? why are they allowed to produce anything? if we had a clear-cut strategy they would of been destroyed back then. what is the administration's reasoning to continually press refugees from syria and other areas in the middle east to relax the entry requirements
into the u.s., especially when france, germany and belgium have documented that over 70 have an 80 isis members entered the eu through syria with fake passports and know where the people that did the shootings in paris. why is this administration hell-bent on relaxing these on -- relaxing these restrictions? what is the reasoning for that? mr. mcgurk: that is going to continue. >> the fbi director and jeh johnson say there is no internet these people. -- vet these people. why not put a pause to make sure they are not fake passports? you are saying that. yet france and germanys and the other countries are saying wait a minute. we're not doing this anymore. why are we not heeding the warning that we know is going to happen? mr. mcgurk: i defer to my colleagues at work with this
issue everyday. i can get you a more stringent answer. we have one of the most astringent policies. i am not aware of any terrorist of hundreds of the refugee program. representative yoho: going back to the isis transport we talked ,about the administration's failure to go after this. we are out of war in terrorism, right? isis is the terrorists organization that we're in conflict with. i don't know what poll you had. what i see is reckless endangerment and a dereliction of duty on the national security by this administration. i hope that you would help them straighten that out. i yield back. >> thank you so much. my other florida colleague? representative deutch: thank you. on the subject of rest --
reckless endangerment as long as , we're talking about the issues, i'm not going to ask you. it is hard to comprehend and the accusations made about the administration policies. the request that the administration the criticismd in is why did we take this sooner? when the concern that we have about fighting terrorism, at least one in small respect can be addressed if you acknowledge that individuals who are in -- who can't find the country -- flight into the country because they are on a terrorism watch list can go to any gun store and purchase a gun. i don't understand it. if we're going to talk about reckless endangerment, that's something the congress ought to be do and the speaker ought to allow us to debate on. it is impossible for me to
understand how after this hearing is logical for the american people has yet to be done. now i want to circle back to a comment and exchange that we had earlier on iran. the focus is really on iraq. i want to talk about iran's activities in syria. the question is really straightforward. after the nuclear deal, has that had an impact on the iranians and with respect to their activities on the ground in syria and supporting hezbollah and propping up assad and at the same time fighting isis? mr. mcgurk: thanks for your question. iran, since the nuclear deal they are at the table with saudi arabia, qatar, turkey and everyone else. that is significant.
certainly i think their tactic and strategies in syria if anything have made the conflict worse. i think we've been very clear on that. iran is focused on the election upcoming later this month which will decide some things about the direction the country is headed. certainly we are not seen a significant change in terms of what they are doing in syria. mr. mcgurk: i would observe how many things would be decided when the number of reformers who are allowed to run. i appreciate that. i want to asked a follow up. the fact is that iran and its proxies are impossible for the assad and his ability to massacre his own people. in the earlier stages of these debates, there was talk about individuals who would like to go
after assad because of the brutality against their family members and community members. and if they didn't have that opportunity, sometimes they'd turn to whoever would give them the chance to fight no matter how awful the group might be. what are we doing now to ensure that the battle of -- they wage is one that is against isil and yet also acknowledges that the brutal assad regime ultimately is responsible for so much of the problems that exist. mr. mcgurk: this is a real problem. so long as the regime is running at full bore, which it is right now, enabled by the russian air campaign the pool of fighters, , particularly in the parts of the country to fight isil is reduced. i discuss in some detail north
of aleppo the groups that we were working with have now peeled off to fight the regime. which is why the russian air campaign in its respect has made the fight against is accident s -- isil more difficult. me inther chairman joins telling you that while at first i would to committee personally for your efforts in helping to secure the release of american citizens who are held in iran, as you know my constituent was not among them. i was with the family this morning on the senate side on the markup of the resolution that we're going to be taking up to here. they deserve to have that same feeling of joy and relief that the other families are now feeling. i just can't emphasize strongly enough how important it is for us, for the american people, and for you specifically to be unrelenting to bring them
home. mr. mcgurk: i assure you the issue with the prisoners was one of the most difficult things i'd ever done. i have gotten to know the families quite well. i have met the levinsohn's a couple of times. i met them in the west wing yesterday before this all the president. we will certainly not season our efforts. >> thank you so much. thank you, mr. deutch. mr. keating of massachusetts. representative keating: thank you, everybody. i would like to thank mr. mcgurk for your service. it's important and you have done a great job and i appreciate that personally. i'm speaking of a member of congress as well. to somelike to respond of the colleagues mr. deutch made about putting things in perspective in terms of threats here at home, even with the language in the terrorists
watch list, i think it is just important that we get a vote on that. the idea that people on the terrorists watch list can legally procure exclusives and -- explosives and weapons and do that legally in the country. it is something that we have to address as part of our own homeland security. the question is that i have along the lines is earlier this last year i went with a group of my colleagues from the homeland security committee. we were looking at tracking the issues surrounding foreign terrorists fighters and those issues. could you give an update on the security counselor resolution in -- council resolution in the regard to 2178 and also more specifically my concern is to with some of the progress was made to turkey. we will see how that turns out. i'm hopeful but skeptical about their ability to secure that border area. two issues that stand out that
passenger name record issue with eu countries and even the kind of security done on the border. can you tell me any progress? that has the direct effect with our security here at home. their ability to do that. >> great questions, congressman. i addressed this somewhat to my written station -- statement. since paris we have seen a lot of this in that regard. the first step was to focus international attention. it was resolution 2178 which came out of the u.n. general assembly in 2014. since then i think as my testimony mentioned, 45 countries have updated their laws to track down the foreign terrorists fighters. what we're trying to do now as we learn more about the networks and through the coalition -- it is why the global coalition is
so important. it is not just the military which gets a lot of the focus. it is sharing information across the multiple lines of effort. in the foreign fighter sides we have a cell that shares information across borders. we've had arrests now. belgium, egypt, france, indonesia, kuwait, netherlands, philippines, qatar, here in the united states. now we're sharing information to collapse the foreign fighter networks. it is a very difficult endeavor. it is law enforcement. it is intelligence. but it is constantly sharing information. we found that many of the countries we work with, they have a difficult time sharing information amongst themselves. it is a problem we had before 9/11. >> there's different laws. mr. mcgurk: they are working to -- post paris that they are doing the same thing. passenger name recognition is a critical thing. that was getting in the way and getting hung up on privacy laws.