ISIL ‘worse than Al-Qaeda’: US State Department

ISIL ‘worse than Al-Qaeda’: US State Department
Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:10:02

Top US officials crisscrossed the Capitol over the past two days, giving urgent warnings that ISIL represented a threat “worse than Al-Qaeda,” in the words of one State Department official, with the capability to create a sanctuary for global jihadists working to threaten American interests.

The ISIL Takfiri group in Iraq and Syria is no longer merely a terrorist organization, a top State Department official told House and Senate lawmakers, but “a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”

“[ISIL] is Al-Qaeda… in its doctrine, its ambition, and increasingly its threat to US interests,” said Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. ISIL is “targeting all Iraqis .. who disagree with its twisted vision of a 7th century caliphate.”

But while ISIL shares Al-Qaeda’s ambitions, it shown that it can be even savvier, officials testified before the House and Senate foreign affairs committees this week.

“[ISIL] has proving to be… more effective in terms of organizing and developing a state structure than even core Al-Qaeda, and that is why it is more than just a terrorist organization—it certainly doesn’t have the global reach in terms of terrorist capacity as core Al-Qaeda, but it has the sophistication to develop what has really becoming a state-like sanctuary for a global jihadist movement,” McGurk said. “They’re a self-sustaining organization.”

These heightened warnings come even as The Daily Beast reported from Baghdad that internal divisions with the self-declared ‘Islamic State’ threaten to tear it apart.

“ISIL loves the propaganda that makes it seem like the scariest group in the world. And ISIL really is as brutal as it claims to be, though not yet half as strong,” it wrote.

ISIL terrorists (file photo)

That didn’t seem to stop top administration officials from magnifying the danger ISIL poses to American interests. Pentagon official Elissa Slotkin told senators Thursday that the US had begun increasing surveillance flights in Iraq to some 50 per day to counter the ISIL threat.

“They are self-funded, they have control over significant territory, they are tested in battle, they are a serious threat. While we don’t assess right now that they are doing distinct homeland plotting… they are open about it, that they are coming for the US,” Slotkin warned. “I don’t want that to fester.”

The ISIL threat was particularly potent, she said, because fighters with the organization were “very, very experience and war-tested.” Slotkin also said that a number of Western passport-holders have traveled to Syria to interact with ISIL, and that ISIL was conducting “active plotting in Europe.”

“In Baghdad jut this week, there was a suicide bombing—there was a German, there was an Australian. ISIL is able to funnel about 30 to 50 suicide bombers a month into Iraq. We assess almost all foreign fighters—it would be very easy for ISIL to funnel that cadre of dedicated suicide bombers” to other regional capitals, Europe, or even the US, McGurk told Senate lawmakers Thursday.

ISIL’s stated intent, Slotkin told members of Congress, was “we’re coming for you, Barack Obama.”

But outside of the threat of terrorist attacks, ISIL’s actions in the Middle East could impact the United States by disrupting global energy markets.

“Iraq, through 2035, will account for 45 percent of all of the growth in oil energy exports. If Iraq were to collapse in a major civil war, the effects to our own economy here at home would be quite serious,” McGurk told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The resulting economic shocks, he said, would be “devastating.”

BA/BA

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