Hyperbole or high likelihood? At least one leader in Congress is concerned.
In the early months of 2001, the New York Times was running articles about the radical Islamist group the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist sculptures in Afghanistan.
The Taliban, it turned out, were harboring al Qaida, the group who would attack New York and Washington, D.C., in September of that year.
Now, in 2014, the world has witnessed not only brutal persecution of Christians and other religious minorites in Iraq and Syria but also the destruction of statues, mosques and other physical objects that the Islamists consider idols.
Are we seeing a repeat of history? Could we see another 9/11—soon?
The Islamic State wants you to think so. With the gruesome videotaped killing of American journalist James Foley, they’ve shown they mean business.
The group warned that it will attack Americans everywhere “if its fighters are attacked,” reports Al-Arab.net.
In posting the video of Foley’s beheading on social media, ISIS threatened the United States: “We will drown all of you in blood.”
In the video, the terrorist group said it was beheading Foley in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against its positions in northern Iraq.
President Barack Obama promised this week to develop a long-term strategy to combat ISIS. During a speech at the White House, Obama warned that the extremists constitute a threat “to Iraqis and the entire region.”
“We will continue to follow a long-term strategy to turn the course of events against ISIS by supporting the new Iraqi government,” he said.
Others have gone further. A U.S. intelligence official said Thursday, “I would tell you ISIL has had a longstanding, overt interest in killing Americans.”
Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, which monitors Islamic extremism, said there is ample evidence that the terrorist group — which controls large portions of Iraq and Syria and has committed mass executions — is gearing up for attacks against the U.S., reported The Washington Times.
Richard Brennan, senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, says it would be in America’s interest to step up opposition to ISIS, also known by the acronym ISIL.
“ISIL poses a threat not only to Iraq and Syria but also to Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and to a larger extent the international community as a whole, Brennan said. “It’s a much more dangerous threat than al Qaida ever was. If we don’t take steps to address this cancer it will metastasize and grow into a threat that will be much more serious in the years to come.”
Brennan, a former Army officer who spent six years in positions related to national security and defense policy, including two years working within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and three years serving as an assistant professor of international relations at the US Military Academy, said ISIL has a “state-of-the-art propaganda” effort to recruit foreigners to “both come to Iraq and Syria, as well as to work at their behest in other countries. Estimates of ISIL membership range from 7,000 to 15,000, “with as many as 1000 people who have come from the US, Australia, Canada, Western European countries, with western passports, who can use the skills they are learning on the battlefield, fighting with ISIL, to do damage to the homelands of countries around the world,” Brennan said.
Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned of the risk that ISIS could be preparing fighters to attack American and European targets.
“It has become clear that ISIL is recruiting fighters in Western countries, training them to fight its battles in the Middle East and possibly returning them to European and American cities to attack us in our backyard,” the California Democrat said in a statement backing military action authorized by President Barack Obama. “We simply cannot allow this to happen.”
Feinstein called for a broader military campaign against ISIS, not just the targeted missions authorized by the president, according to Roll Call.
Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul Amel Nona said recently from Irbil, where he and tens of thousands of other Christians have fled ISIS’s onslaught: “Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future…You are welcoming in your countries an ever-growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions.”
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.