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Military intelligence analyst visits Golden Club

Posted: September 11, 2015 2:43 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

Scott Strobel, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who now works as a civilian at Shaw Air Force Base, speaks to members of Camden’s Golden Club about the threat posed by ISIS in the Middle East.

What is the status of terrorist organizations in the Middle East and around the globe? What is ISIL (or ISIS), and how can it be resisted? Military intelligence analyst Scott Strobel answered these and other questions as the guest speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Golden Club in Camden.

A former intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force, Strobel now works as a civilian for Air Force Central Command at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter. He emphasized his comments Thursday were as a private citizen with a knowledge of terrorism, not as a government spokesman.

“The main fight we’re engaged in right now is the fight against ISIL … this large group of people situated somewhere between Iraq and Syria and now branching out in other locations who has claimed they have established the one and only worldwide Muslim, Islamic government that is going to grow from its center outward,” Strobel said. “In their attempts to do that, those in their neighborhood have said not just no, but hell no, we’re not going to have this. So, you have all sorts of people who have come together who aren’t necessarily working together trying to stop this threat, the United States being one of them.”

Strobel said ISIL has practically unlimited finances through the sale of oil.

“Turkey is buying the oil, but they’re not buying it directly. It goes through several hands, so ISIS sells it to some individual traders, they trade it to some other traders and by the time it gets to Turkey, it has been laundered, so to speak. Oil, unlike dollar bills, doesn’t have any kind of serial number or security devices. You can’t tell too well where it came from, and neither are you asking,” Strobel said. “We’ve had a hard time tracking the oil because it’s basically been like a Hydra, the mythical beast that you chop off its head and two more spring up.”

Strobel said he is reluctant to condemn anyone’s ideology, because those we consider to be enemies believe they are in the right.

“We think our enemies get up in the morning and don their black hat and say, ‘I’m a bad guy and I’m going to do bad things for badness sake.’ It’s simply not true. Do I think they have pure motives? Do I think that everyone around the world is good? No, not necessarily, but they think they are,” Strobel said. “If you think you’re a good person you operate from a mindset that says ‘what can I do that’s best in the line of my sight?’”

Strobel concluded by saying the best indicators of a country’s future is to observe its young people.

“People will say the country is in a mess today and fill in whatever you think is wrong. The seeds for that world view and political ideology and the seeds for whatever it is that you don’t like didn’t come from some other country. It didn’t come from outer space. It came from the younger generation,” Strobel said. “If you want to see the future of Iran, look at the younger generation. They are not reproducing the revolution mentality in the young people. A possible course of action could be to wait them out. Maybe, much like the Cold War, it will be a war in which not a single shot is fired.”

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