Magazine article USA TODAY

Obama's JV Jibe Still Stings

Magazine article USA TODAY

Obama's JV Jibe Still Stings

Article excerpt

New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi--a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist--took students and community members to the front lines of the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), revealing developments about the terrorist organization to an audience gathered at Benedictine University's Goodwin Hall Auditorium. Only hours after coming off a red-eye flight from Egypt, Callimachi expounded on new details gleaned from her embedded reporting in Mosul, one of the last [as we go to press] remaining ISIS strongholds in Iraq, and an area that has faced stiff resistance since the launch of a U.S.-backed Iraqi offensive in October 2016.

"I wanted to ask you, 'Where do you think ISIS gets their weapons?' They grabbed some of their hardware from Mosul in 2014 when the city fell and when they overpowered the Iraqi Army and raided their armory. They got thousands of armored personnel carriers and AK-47s, but guess what?--most of that equipment has been destroyed in airstrikes. Here's the shocking thing: over the past three years, ISIS has become so sophisticated in how it fights that, in some ways, it is starting to resemble a conventional army, and one of the things it is doing is manufacturing many of its own weapons."

Callimachi explained other tactics that have helped prolong ISIS's occupation of Mosul, showing the audience pictures of commercially sold drones used as weapons, leaflets warning people not to collaborate with Iraqi forces, and a network of tunnels the group has constructed to hide from military surveillance.

Over the course of her career, Callimachi has covered 20 foreign countries and exposed the inner workings of terrorist organizations. Her George Polk Award-winning series, Underwriting Jihad, revealed that ransoms paid by European governments had become one of the main sources of funding for A1 Qaeda, while her other series, The Al Qaeda Papers, uncovered internal procedures of the extremist organization, including its expense-reporting process and correspondence from the man considered to be the general manager of the terrorist network.

There are as many as 100,000 Iraqi troops engaged in Mosul. While lesser known, the highest estimate for the number of ISIS fighters borders on 10,000, Callimachi indicates. …

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