This is the story of how the Islamic State could make its comeback.
For weeks now, Iraq has been rocked by anti-government protests and violent crackdowns. Its prime minister, a U.S. ally, mayresign. And now America’s local partners in Syria, the Kurds—who have done more than anyone to roll back ISIS there at the expense of thousands of lives—have been left on their own to face a potential invasion by their powerful, NATO-allied arch-nemesis, Turkey.
During the war with the Islamic State, I sometimes heard U.S. officials and analysts express something like relief that the group had declared a “caliphate” with recognizable borders in Syria and Iraq, even flying its flag atop Mosul’s historic Great Mosque of al-Nuri. A state was something the U.S. military could take away. An ideology is much harder to defeat. That’s the problem America faces as it grapples with the threat of white-nationalist terrorism today.
On his first day in office, in January 2017, Donald Trump paid a visit to the CIA. He stood before its Memorial Wall, which then had 117 stars commemorating those who lost their lives in the line of duty. “I want to just let you know, I am so behind you,” Trump told the crowd of intelligence officials who’d gathered to hear him speak. “And I know maybe sometimes you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted, and you’re going to get so much backing,” he said, just days after comparing U.S. intelligence agencies to Nazis.
In early 2017, Kevin Mallory was struggling financially. After years of drawing a government salary as a member of the military and as a CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency officer, he was behind on his mortgage and $230,000 in debt. Though he had, like many veteran intelligence officials, ventured into the private sector, where the pay can be considerably better, things still weren’t going well; his consulting business was floundering.
If Joe Biden wins the 2020 presidential election, he will be haunted by an old problem: the U.S. war in Iraq. It’s an issue he has struggled with since 2002, when he cast a Senate vote that led to the U.S. invasion, and throughout his time as vice president—and one at the heart of an identity crisis engulfing the Democratic Party on foreign policy.
An elite group of Iraqi soldiers is leading the battle to free the city of Mosul from ISIS. The so-called “Golden Division” was formed and trained by the US to hunt terrorists — but in Mosul they have been thrown into brutal urban combat. Mike Giglio and Warzer Jaff accompanied them to the front lines for some of the decisive moments of the seven-month offensive. This is the story of their fight against ISIS and of the men they lost along the way.
As the US and its allies prepare to launch a major offensive for Mosul, US service members are on the ground in growing numbers — and increasingly in harm's way. Mike Giglio reports from the bases and front lines where they work around northern Iraq.
How To Lose Your Mind To ISIS And Then Fight To Get It Back
It’s far easier to join ISIS than to leave. Members of a hidden community of ISIS defectors recount how they were pulled into the grip of extremism — and their struggle to escape. Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad report for BuzzFeed News from the Syrian border.
This Is How Syrian Antiquities Are Being Smuggled And Sold
The trade in stolen antiquities from Syria funds all sides of the civil war that has engulfed the country. BuzzFeed News' Mike Giglio traveled along its porous border with Turkey to meet the people involved in this black market, from grave robbers and excavators to middlemen and dealers.
William Suess Thought He Was An American Until The Day He Was Deported
Born in Germany but raised in Missouri, "Wild Bill" Suess served in the Army, then did time for various crimes. But he didn't know what prison really was until strict immigration laws left him to fend for himself at a grim shelter in a foreign country he was now forced to call home.