Islamic State Now Threat to West, Says U.S. – Siobhan Gorman, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Nour Malas
(dailyalert.org, Aug. 15, 2014)
The gains made in recent months by the Islamic State have bolstered its long-term ambitions to attack the West, including the U.S., and the group has become such a potent force that traditional counterterrorism tactics aren’t sufficient to eliminate it, U.S. intelligence officials said on Thursday. (Wall Street Journal)
See also U.S. Intelligence Officials Assess Islamic State Threat– David Ignatius
The Obama administration’s Iraq policy seems premised on the idea that the terrorist Islamic State is so toxic that it will be self-limiting and ultimately self-defeating. But in a briefing for journalists Thursday, five U.S. intelligence officials said the organization has shown remarkable durability. Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group has rebounded from about 1,500 fighters in 2010 to more than 10,000 today – becoming a global jihadist organization.
“We don’t assess this as something that will collapse on its own,” said one official. The intelligence experts cautioned that counterterrorist tools, such as drone strikes and other air attacks, wouldn’t be sufficient “to defeat it rather than just ratchet it back.”
The officials expressed skepticism that Baghdadi could be deterred from striking the U.S. “We assess that the group sees conflict with the U.S. as inevitable,” said one official. Another noted a chilling Internet statement several months ago: “America, we have not turned our gaze away from you.”
Under its original name, al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State ferociously battled U.S. forces. Most of its leading fighters were imprisoned by U.S. occupation troops, but incarceration was a school for jihad, and they emerged tougher, better connected and more dedicated.
The global reach of the Islamic State is boosted by the several thousand foreign fighters from Europe, the U.S., and Asia who have moved through the group’s camps, mostly by going across the Turkish border into Syria. “Some of them are going home, with or without orders, to start cells,” an official warned.
My takeaway from this unusual briefing was that the Obama administration needs a broad strategy that gradually degrades this group back to its earlier size. The Islamic State won’t implode because of its own mistakes. It will have to be fought, patiently and subtly. (Washington Post)
(Click on the title of either article to see the whole article…Ed.)