News / USA

    Fears Renewed of Islamic State Attacks in Europe, US

    FILE - A heavily armed New York city police officer stands guard at the armed forces recruiting center in New York's Times Square, Nov. 14, 2015.
    FILE - A heavily armed New York city police officer stands guard at the armed forces recruiting center in New York's Times Square, Nov. 14, 2015.

    Western intelligence agencies are increasingly worried that Islamic State militants will soon find ways to carry out more and increasingly sophisticated attacks on Europe and the United States, using November's terror attack on Paris as a blueprint.

    "2016 is going to be the year where we wish we could get back to 2015," said Patrick Skinner, a former U.S. intelligence officer now with The Soufan Group, a strategic security intelligence consultancy.

    "It's far too easy for a fighter to go from Raqqa to Europe, and you would think that would be really hard to do," he said.

    Analysts have long warned that the Islamic State had the ability to direct attacks on Western targets from its home base in Syria and Iraq. But they say the Paris attack showed the group was capable of putting that ability into action, using both former foreign fighters and radicalized individuals to kill 130 people in a coordinated fashion.

    FILE - Flowers and candle tributes are placed at the Restaurant Le Carillon in Paris, Nov. 19, 2015, after the deadly terror attacks.
    FILE - Flowers and candle tributes are placed at the Restaurant Le Carillon in Paris, Nov. 19, 2015, after the deadly terror attacks.

    Already, French and British officials have warned that the group is actively planning new mass casualty attacks in Europe. One unnamed French senior counterterrorism official told the French news agency that the Islamic State is aiming for a "European 9/11."

    Growing emphasis on external ops

    U.S. officials are equally concerned, pointing to the Islamic State's growing emphasis on external operations as it devotes more people and resources to those missions. The FBI says online calls for attacks against American targets, especially against soldiers and law enforcement, have also continued unabated.

    "ISIL's opportunistic nature goes beyond Iraq and Syria," a U.S. counterterrorism official told VOA, using an acronym for the terror group. "It's no surprise that it used its foothold to plot against the West."

    Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell warned U.S. lawmakers Tuesday not to underestimate the Islamic State.

    "Sometimes it's really important to listen to what your adversary tells you," he told the House Armed Services Committee.

    "ISIS has told us they're going to attack us here," he said, referring to the group by one of its other acronyms. "Unless they are degraded, they will succeed."

    Military defeat not enough

    To date, U.S. and coalition forces have launched almost 10,000 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, destroying more than 18,000 targets and killing more than 20,000 fighters.

    U.S. military officials also say the group has lost 20 to 30 percent of the territory it once held.

    FILE - Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service secure the central Ramadi’s Hoz neighborhood after Islamic State jihadists abandon their last stronghold in the Anbar province capital, Dec. 27, 2015.
    FILE - Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service secure the central Ramadi’s Hoz neighborhood after Islamic State jihadists abandon their last stronghold in the Anbar province capital, Dec. 27, 2015.

    Yet lost fighters have been replaced, counterattacks have been launched and new terror plots are being hatched, leading some to wonder if degrading the Islamic State will be enough.

    "A lot of our assumptions are based on that if we defeat them militarily — which is a categorical imperative, we have to do that — that it will result in defeat on the other battlefields of social media and lone wolves and small cells," Skinner said. "I don't think that's accurate. I think the lag time, if they are connected, is going to be a lot longer than we're going to tolerate."

    Some current U.S. officials are also cautious, saying that even once the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate is destroyed, it will take an additional effort — a "second war" — to destroy the Islamic State terror group.

    "We're just getting started," former CIA director James Woolsey told VOA during an interview in November. "We will be seeing ISIS one way or another in Europe, and perhaps in North America, for a long time to come."


    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: The voice must be heared from: The middle east
    January 13, 2016 9:23 AM
    Maybe the lowest price the west pays for the destruction it have brought to, and destructive acts it have committed iagainst the ancient beloved lands, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, ...

    To get an idea about what have been done to the eastern nations, consider that India was one of the world's wealthiest and most prosperous nations before the British colonization era, and eventually it became one of the poorest when the colonists left.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora