CIA Chief Warns IS ‘Formidable’ Despite LossesJuly 12, 2016 in IS, ISIS, Islamic State
According to CIA Director John Brennan, the efforts of the US-led coalition that is fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) group have failed to reduce its ability to carry out militant attacks.
Speaking to the Senate intelligence committee, in an update on the threat from extremists, Mr Brennan told the hearing that the group remains “formidable” despite territorial losses. He stated, “unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL (Islamic State) on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.” He indicated that he estimates that IS now has more fighters than al-Qaeda when that militant group was at its strongest, adding that there are as many as 22,000 IS fighters operating in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. He also indicated that the CIA is particularly concerned about the growth of Libya as an IS base.
While Mr Brennan indicated that the US-led coalition had made progress against IS, the group has “a large cadre of Western fighter who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West,” warning that “to compensate for territorial losses, ISIL will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside territory it holds.”
Mr Brennan’s appearance comes just days after the attack on a gay nightclub in Florida. The gunman, Omar Mateen, had pledged allegiance to IS, however Mr Brennan told the hearing that the CIA had not uncovered any direct link between Mateen and foreign militant groups.