While his fellow network news colleagues all but ignored any criticism of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday afternoon and his avoidance of using the term Islamic extremism, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel ripped the current U.S. strategy for defeating ISIS during NBC Nightly News.
“ISIS is spreading like a virus and months of U.S.-led air strikes don't seem to be containing it,” declared Engel at the onset of his report.
As an example of their growing strength and brutality, Engel brought up the beheading of “21 Egyptian Christians” and how “[o]ne of the executioners” was “speaking in English with an American accent.”
Taking another shot at the Obama administration, Engel brought up how “the biggest advances and reportedly the worst atrocities, have come where Washington claims to be making the most progress, in Iraq, which is starting to look like a failed state.”
In describing their spread, he noted that ISIS has been “moving into all the cracks in the Middle East, the unresolved conflicts in Iraq, Libya, the Sinai, Syria and Gaza.” He then finished his report with this sharp conclusion: “This is not a problem that can be droned away. The ISIS virus is consuming the Middle East, infecting Europe and showing no sign of stopping there.”
Engel’s report on Wednesday was far from his first comments that were critical of the Obama administration. Following the President’s State of the Union address on January 21, Engel slammed him for “outlining a world that he wishes we were in but which is very different” compared to one “with terror raids taking place across Europe, ISIS very much on the move.”
After Obama gave a primetime speech on September 10, 2014 outlining his so-called ISIS strategy, Engel deemed it to be “wildly off-base” and “an oversimplification of the problem.”
The full transcript of the segment that aired on NBC Nightly News on February 18 is transcribed below.
NBC Nightly News
February 18, 2015
7:07 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Fighting ISIS]
LESTER HOLT: Turning overseas to Iraq where ISIS launched another wave of attacks only to be met with fierce resistance on the ground, but ISIS is relentless both on the battlefield and in the atrocities it commits on videotape for the world to see. We get the latest tonight from our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.
RICHARD ENGEL: ISIS is spreading like a virus and months of U.S.-led air strikes don't seem to be containing it. In Libya, ISIS has been showing its strength. The group beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians. One of the executioners speaking in English with an American accent.
MAN IN ISIS VIDEO: Recently you’ve seen us on the hills of –
ENGEL: Egypt hit back with its own air strikes. ISIS says Italy will be next. Security's already been beefed up at St. Peters, but the biggest advances and reportedly the worst atrocities, have come where Washington claims to be making the most progress, in Iraq, which is starting to look like a failed state. In the north, we saw firsthand last week how Kurdish forces have been under attack. Today, near the city of Irbil they turned back a major ISIS assault. In central Iraq, where ISIS captured the town of Al-Baghdadi, Iraqi officials claim as many as 48 of their fighters were burned alive by militants. It's unconfirmed by U.S. officials, but it reportedly happened just five miles from a base where hundreds of U.S. Marines are deployed as advisers, but why the spread? ISIS is moving into all the cracks in the Middle East, the unresolved conflicts in Iraq, Libya, the Sinai, Syria and Gaza. This is not a problem that can be droned away. The ISIS virus is consuming the Middle East, infecting Europe and showing no sign of stopping there. Richard Engel, NBC News.