Photo bomb: US general boasts strike on ISIS HQ based on jihadist ‘selfie’

US Air Force F-22 Raptors (Reuters / Kevin J. Gruenwald)
US intelligence officers were able to locate and bomb an Islamic State command center within 24 hours, based solely on a photo and comments in social media – at least according to an Air Force general praising the strike.

“It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours,” said General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of the Air Combat Command, addressing the Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington, DC. “It was incredible work, and incredible airmen doing this sort of thing.”

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At the meeting, Carlisle told the story on how analysts with the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, based at Hurlburt Field in Florida, spotted a “selfie” of an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighter in front of what was said to be a command facility, and used the comments to track the building down.

“They see some moron standing at this command,” Carlisle said, “bragging about the command and control capabilities for [IS]” in some open forum. So they “did some work,” and about 22 hours later, three Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) “took the building out,” he said.

Carlisle used the speech to describe the extent of Air Force and coalition operations against Islamic State, citing a figure of 4,200 strikes dropping 14,000 munitions and killing “about 13,000 enemy fighters,”reported the Air Force Times.

He said that the coalition airstrikes had destroyed over 1,000 vehicles and 50 factories of improvised explosive devices, and also claimed that the group’s chief revenue sources were destroyed, namely oil collection and refining facilities.

Two days after the general’s speech, experts testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee said that Islamic State has published 1,700 pictures, videos and other publications, and reached up to 200,000 readers on social media platforms.

READ MORE: US-led airstrikes kill 52 Syrian civilians in a day, not 1 ISIS fighter – monitor

Previous claims of major US successes against Islamic State forces have been contested. For example, US Central Command claimed that “more than 50 ISIL fighters” were killed in an April 30 airstrike near Birmahle in Syria.

However, according to the UK-based group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, all of the victims of the strike were civilians, including seven children. Another 13 people were buried under the rubble, SOHR spokesman Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

After US-backed Iraqi forces captured Tikrit in April, the IS routed the major Iraqi garrison in Ramadi, capital of the Anbar province only 60 miles west of Baghdad.

General John Allen, the top US envoy in the coalition fighting the IS, told a US-Islamic World Forum in Qatar on Wednesday that defeating the group might take “a generation or more.”

Some US lawmakers are balking at the cost and the commitment, considering the US has not officially declared war. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) is now pushing for a vote in the House of Representatives that would either back the US war effort or bring the troops home.

“If we are going to invest a generation or more of our blood and our treasure in this war, then shouldn’t Congress at least debate whether or not to authorize it?”McGovern asked on the House floor on Thursday.

According to the budget watchdog National Priorities Project, every hour of military operations against IS costs the US taxpayers $615,482.