The director of the CIA told Congress Thursday that ISIS jihadis are infiltrating groups of refugees flooding Europe and the US to launch terror attacks against the West — echoing a charge leveled by Donald Trump but dismissed by the Obama administration.
ISIS “has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West,” CIA chief John Brennan said.
He explained that ISIS was working to smuggle them into countries disguised as refugees and also through legitimate travel routes.
Brennan said ISIS remains “formidable” and “resilient,” and is training and deploying operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for its territorial losses in Iraq and Syria.
The spy chief told the Senate intelligence committee that the jihadis have been plotting to direct and inspire attacks against foreign enemies, such as the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, which the agency believes were orchestrated by ISIS
Brennan also noted the group’s call for followers to launch lone-wolf attacks in their home countries.
After the Orlando massacre at a gay club in which 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded, Trump renewed his call for a ban on immigration from war-torn Muslim nations because terrorists could be sneaking in among legitimate refugees.
He was immediately mocked by President Obama and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton — but the CIA chief essentially confirmed Trump’s charge.
His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brennan said the CIA is sharing intelligence with the FBI to help identify potential lone-wolf attackers, but the CIA’s responsibility is to gather information about operations overseas.
He said ISIS is cultivating its disparate offshoots into an interconnected network.
The branch in Libya is likely the most advanced and most dangerous, but ISIS is trying to increase its influence in Africa and to plot attacks in the region and in Europe, Brennan said.
The branch in the Sinai has become the “most active and capable terrorist group in all of Egypt,” attacking the Egyptian military and government targets in addition to foreigners and tourists, such as the downing of a Russian passenger jet last October.
Other branches have struggled to gain traction, Brennan said.
“The Yemen branch, for instance, has been riven with factionalism. And the Afghanistan-Pakistan branch has struggled to maintain its cohesion, in part because of competition with the Taliban,” he said.
He said the US-led coalition has made progress combating the group, which has had to surrender large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and has lost some of its leaders in airstrikes.
ISIS has struggled to replenish its ranks of fighters, Brennan said, because fewer of them are traveling to Syria and others have defected.
“The group appears to be a long way from realizing the vision that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its leader, laid out when he declared the caliphate two years ago in Mosul,” Iraq, Brennan said.
He said ISIS’ ability to raise money has also been curtailed, although the group still continues to generate at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue each month, mostly from taxation and from sales of crude oil.
“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against [ISIS] on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” he said.
“In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”
Sen. Richard Burr ( R-N.C.), the committee chairman, said there has been much public discussion about progress the US-led coalition has made to contain the group’s geographic reach, to degrade its finance and media operations and to remove its fighters from the battlefield.
But he said the militant group’s “global battlefield now includes the United States and we cannot stand idly by.”
“Now is not a time to pay lip service to these threats,” Burr said. “The sooner we as a nation realize that there is only one path for us to take at this juncture, the sooner we will destroy [ISIS] and ensure the continued safety of our nation.”
(via: New York Post)