Islamic State

Coalition forces collected DNA from ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in 2004
Records released Tuesday cast new light on the terrorist leader’s time in U.S. custody

The U.S. military took a DNA sample from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shown here in 2014, more than a decade before he was killed, records show. (Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images file photo)

The U.S. military took a DNA sample from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi more than a decade before American special forces killed him last weekend, records obtained by CQ Roll Call show.

The White House confirmed in a statement Sunday that “visual evidence and DNA tests confirmed Baghdadi’s identity” after the terrorist leader blew himself up during a dramatic raid by special forces in northwest Syria.

Trump’s CPAC Address in Three Minutes
 

President Donald Trump delivered an address to a fired-up crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning. His speech hit some familiar notes, here’s Roll Call’s recap.

Obama Sends Messages to Trump on Terrorism, Drone Strategies
POTUS to PEOTUS: Citizens can ‘criticize our president without retribution’

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Creech Air Force Base. On Tuesday, President Obama defended his counterterrorism strategy, which has relied on the drones. (Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his approach to fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in a speech that appeared to feature several tips for his successor, Donald Trump.

Obama used what was likely his final national security address to press for continuing his policy of avoiding resource-draining U.S. ground operations in the Middle East. He argued the use of armed drones, elite warriors and local troops has decimated al-Qaeda and has begun to substantially weaken the Islamic State. Trump has suggested some major changes to Obama’s strategy, including working with Russia, tightening Muslims’ access to the U.S., and teaming with any country that promises to fight “radical Islam.”

Ep. 27: The Next U.S. President’s Challenges in Iraq and Syria
The Big Story

Show Notes:

The U.S.-backed military campaign in Iraq to drive the Islamic State from the city of Mosul is expected to succeed, but it could open the door to a host of problems the next U.S. administration will have to tackle, says Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute. In a conversation with CQ Roll Call’s National Security reporter Ryan Lucas and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim, Salem explains the complications hindering stability in Iraq, including the conflict in Syria, where U.S. diplomatic efforts face challenges from an assortment of players, including Russia and Iran.

Ransom-to-Iran Charge 'Defies Logic,' Obama Says
President rejects Trump allegation that general election will be 'rigged'

Secretary of State John Kerry (left) meets with senior Iranian officials. On Thursday, President Obama rejected allegations that his administration paid a ransom to Tehran to free U.S. hostages. (Photo via Flickr)

President Obama on Thursday rejected Republican assertions that his administration paid Iran a $400 million ransom to secure the freedom of four American hostages.  

Obama expressed bewilderment that something that “was not a secret” when the funds were transferred has become a major issue following a new report that the payment was made in cash that was delivered via an unmarked cargo plane.  

After Gun Votes, White House Says Republicans 'Scared' of NRA
Top Obama spokesman: 'Cowardice' led to defeat of Senate measures

Hours after Senate Republicans defeated four gun measures, the White House hit back hard by accusing them of “cowardice” and being “scared” of the National Rifle Association.  

The four measures, two Republican-crafted and two Democrat-written, would have tied gun purchases to various federal terrorism watchlists , increased funding, and closed the so-called “guns show loophole.” None received the requisite 60 votes needed to end debate.  

Biden Goes Attack Dog: Will Hit Trump on Border Wall, Muslim Ban
White House wants to paint GOP nominee as unfit for commander in chief

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., speaks at the Georgetown Law School as he supports the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump has a commander-in-chief problem, and the White House will try to exploit it again on Monday by forcefully criticizing his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stances.  

Days after President Barack Obama delivered a rhetorical broadside at the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s response to the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting, Vice President Joseph R. Biden ’s will take his turn. He's to deliver a sweeping repudiation of Trump’s many pronouncements, including his vow to build a wall on the Mexican border at that country’s expense.  

Do Something, Congress
Americans want to know lawmakers are taking action to make them safe

Members of congress at a vigil and moment of silence on the Capitol steps Monday in remembrance of the victims of the Orlando, Fla., shooting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the night of September 11, 2001, 150 members of the House and Senate stood on the Capitol steps  singing “God Bless America” in unison to signify to the world that Americans stood together in the face of terror.  

On the day after Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and opened fire on hundreds of innocent people at an Orlando nightclub, the House floor devolved into near chaos as Democratic members walked out of the chamber after a moment of silence for the victims. Instead of unity in the face of danger, Congress stood divided and polarized, politicized to the point of collapse after years of gridlock and bitter partisan fighting.      

After Orlando, Bill Nelson Wants to Declare War on ISIS
Florida senator among Democrats renewing push for new gun measures

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson backs legislation to prevent individuals on terror watch lists from legally acquiring firearms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly 48 hours on his feet dealing with the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson arrived at the Capitol Monday ready to take on the Islamic State.  

A member of the Armed Services Committee, the Florida Democrat lamented the lack of appetite for a force resolution against the terrorist group.  

White House Hedges on Syrian Refugees
Only around 1,500 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. so far

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, right, displays the iconic photo of a dead Syrian boy at a news conference in December. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The White House sounded only moderately confident Friday that it will reach President Barack Obama’s goal of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees by Oct. 1.  

Since Obama made the pledge last September , only around 1,500 have been admitted into the United States. The State Department has been working on a plan to admit almost as many each month in order to meet the president's benchmark.