Former CIA Official: Islamic State Could Become Functional State With Airports, Passports

Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, Syria / AP
July 21, 2015

A former senior CIA official acknowledged that the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) is transforming itself from a terrorist organization to an actual functioning state.

The New York Times reported that as IS accumulates territory in Syria and Iraq, the group is implementing traditional methods of governance, such as issuing identification cards, dispersing fishing guidelines, and requiring vehicles to be equipped with emergency kits. At the same time, Sunnis in the areas of both countries controlled by IS see no other alternative but to continue to accept the terrorist organization’s rule, preferring it to the Shiite-controled Iraqi central government and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

John E. McLaughlin, who served as deputy director of the CIA between 2000 and 2004 during portions of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, was quoted in the Times saying that he was not certain that the United States would defeat IS.

"It suddenly just occurred to me, if you add everything up, that these guys could win," McLaughlin admitted, adding, "Evil isn’t always defeated."

He admitted that the idea of the Islamic State eventually becoming a legitimate state with working airports and passports is "not inconceivable." He also compared IS to Hezbollah.

Likewise, an international affairs professor at Harvard University, Stephen M. Walt, contended that IS should be viewed as "a revolutionary state-building organization."

Additionally, a recent study conducted by Yale University political science professor Andrew F. March and graduate student Mara Revkin examined the Islamic State’s legal system, concluding that eventually IS "could become an increasingly ‘normal’ state, in which the simplicity of rules and institutions plucked out of early Islamic history gives way to bureaucratic administration and positive law."

As IS gains territory and exercises governing capabilities in the Middle East, the U.S. Army is planning to cut 40,000 troops and lay off 17,000 civilian employees over the next two years.

President Obama insisted earlier this month that there are "no current plans" to send more troops overseas to fight the Islamic State.