Security officials, lawmakers and analysts are raising alarm that the Islamic State terrorist organization poses a growing threat to the West that must be confronted more directly, despite the U.S. military’s success this week in breaking the group’s siege of civilians on a mountain in northern Iraq.
According to U.S. intelligence officials, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has “pitched itself as the successor to Usama bin Laden.”
This has led to a struggle for dominance between the militant group and core Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials confirm to Fox News that nine members of the Al Qaeda core leadership, though not senior members, have pledged support for IS – in a sign of growing competition between the two groups.
U.S. intelligence officials say some IS operatives have returned home and started cells, though they have not seen evidence yet the group has the ability to pull off a major, successful strike outside of their territory in Iraq and Syria.
But one intelligence official described the organization as “flush with money;” officials also said “almost all” the network’s leaders were in U.S. custody at one point.
The details lend credence to claims that the Islamic State is, or could soon be, an international threat.
“These people intend to attack us here at home and [President Obama] has no strategy to deal with that. That’s what the intelligence community is telling me and every other member of Congress,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News, adding: “There is no force within the Middle East that has the capability to defeat or contain ISIS without American air power.”
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