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US Senator Calls for Wider US Role in Campaign Against IS

  • Victor Beattie

Two posters with pictures of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, and Arabic that reads "we are all Muath," hang on a street pole, in front of the captured pilot's tribal gathering place, in Amman, Jordan,

Two posters with pictures of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, and Arabic that reads "we are all Muath," hang on a street pole, in front of the captured pilot's tribal gathering place, in Amman, Jordan,

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said the only way to end the gruesome beheadings by the Islamic State group is by degrading and destroying the insurgency, which has captured large swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.

The latest beheading of a Japanese journalist by the Islamic State group has renewed a national debate on Japan’s ability to defend itself.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a U.S. television audience Sunday on Face the Nation that President Barack Obama has the right goal but the wrong strategy to defeat the Islamic State group, which has also gone by the acronym ISIL.

"An aerial campaign will not destroy ISIL. You’re going to need boots on the ground, not only in Iraq, but Syria, and there’s got to be some regional force formed, where an American component, somewhere around 10,000 American soldiers to align with the Arab armies in the region and go into Syria and take back territory from ISIL," Graham said.

Syria and Iraq

Graham said Syria and Iraq are the best platforms from which to launch new terrorist attacks on Western targets that he has seen since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The beheading by the Islamic State group of 47-year-old Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, announced in a video released Saturday, brought international condemnation.

The U.N. Security Council Sunday called the execution "heinous and cowardly," saying those responsible "shall be held accountable."

Obama denounced what he called a "barbaric act" and vowed to "continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State group.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Sunday said he was "infuriated" by Goto’s beheading and that of fellow Japanese Haruna Yukawa a week earlier. On Monday, Abe vowed not to give in to terrorists and to increase Japan’s humanitarian aid to the Middle East.

The prime minister urged Japanese lawmakers to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens wherever they are. He also said the government should not limit where the country’s defense forces can be dispatched to defend allies in collective self-defense.

Tokyo-based analyst Michael Cucek of the MIT Center for International Studies said Abe’s government wants to debate easing restrictions on military rescue missions in the event Japanese are again put at risk.

"They have an idea that they need forces that can hold a position, whether it’s an airport or a seaport allowing Japanese self-defense forces to extract Japanese civilians from danger zones," Cucek said.

Heroic journalist

However, he said polling suggests the Japanese public does not want any dramatic revisions to its pacifist postwar constitution. He added that the Japanese public views Goto as a heroic journalist.

"He reported on the children of war zones, on refugees. He really went into some very dangerous places and came out every time, but a man of tremendous bravery who was trying to report on what was going on in the world from ground level," Cucek said.

"And, for many Japanese, they did not know him before, but everyone knows him now, and everyone is deeply depressed by his death," he said.

Also appearing Sunday on Face the Nation was Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who said his government does not know the fate of a Jordanian fighter pilot threatened with death by his Islamic State captors.

Judeh said Amman has renewed its pledge to release a female Iraqi insurgent on death row in Jordan.

"We have said publicly that, if there is proof of life, and if our pilot is released, we are willing to release this woman. But, like I said, we have seen no proof of life, which we have been asking for," he said.

The pilot was captured in December, after his fighter plane was downed over an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria.

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