News / Middle East

    US Defense Secretary Says Islamic State is Imminent Threat

    US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic Statei
    X
    August 22, 2014 4:04 AM
    U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Watch related video from VOA's Zlatica Hoke.
    Meredith Buel

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is warning that the Islamic State is more than a typical terrorist group and is an imminent threat to the United States. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary Hagel said U.S. airstrikes have helped stall the momentum of Islamic State militants in Iraq, and have enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing.

    However, he expects the insurgents to regroup and stage a new offensive.

    “They are beyond just a terrorist group.  They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess.  They are tremendously well-funded.  Oh this is beyond anything that we have seen,” said Hagel.

    Hagel described Islamic State fighters as barbaric, saying they present a serious threat to the United States and other countries.

    “They have no standard of decency, of responsible human behavior, and I think the record is pretty clear on that.  So yes, they are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it is in Iraq or anywhere else,” continued Hagel.

    General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State could pose a threat to Western countries through the return home of U.S. or European nationals who have fought for the militant group in Syria or Iraq.

    “[ISIL] will only truly be defeated when it is rejected by the 20 million disenfranchised Sunnis that happen to reside between Damascus and Baghdad,” said Dempsey.

    Their comments came days after Islamic State militants released a video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Foley was a reporter for GlobalPost when he was captured in Syria in 2012.

    His news outlet says the kidnappers demanded $132 million in exchange for his release.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf says it has long been American policy not to pay ransom in instances where U.S. citizens are being held captive in combat zones.

    “The United States government believes very strongly that paying ransom to terrorists gives them a tool in the form of financing that helps them propagate what they are doing.  So we believe very strongly that we don’t do that,” said Harf.

    U.S. commandos did attempt to rescue Foley and other Americans in Syria. However, the mission failed because the hostages were not at the location where they were believed to have been held.

    Limited campaign

    So far, President Barack Obama has sought to limit his renewed military campaign in Iraq to protecting American diplomats and civilians under direct threat. Obama ended the war in Iraq that killed thousands of American soldiers and consumed U.S. foreign policy for nearly a decade.

    Even after the gruesome killing of Foley, Obama is seen as unlikely to deepen his near-term military involvement in either Iraq or Syria as he seeks to avoid becoming embroiled in another messy Middle Eastern conflict.

    But U.S. officials say they have not ruled out escalating military action against Islamic State, which has increased its overt threats against the United States since the air campaign in Iraq began.

    “We haven't made a decision to take additional actions at this time, but we truly don't rule out additional action against ISIL if it becomes warranted,” Ben Rhodes, a senior Obama aide, told National Public Radio earlier on Thursday.

    Material from Reuters was used in this report.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mm from: mm
    August 23, 2014 2:04 AM
    James Foley is a braveman and is my hero.he will be remember

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    August 22, 2014 9:26 PM
    Secretary Hagel, as usual, got the perspective on ISIS totally correct. What is the most dastardly aspect, is the fact that much of the backbone of ISIS is composed of people that did not live, were not born, nor did originate in the areas in which they are terrorizing civilians; this is a very un-usual situation, coupled with the fact that they have stolen vast resources, including heavy military equipment, the local Iraqi forces are no match for them.
    Given that their campaign enslaves people, especially women and children, forces them to convert, and the fact that they use sucide bombers, including Europeans, makes IS an extremely dangerous group. They are well on their way in acquiring all the controls necessary to form a very extreme state.
    The dastardly and heinious murder of the US journalist is a clear measure of their absolute depravity and total lack of humanity. The longer they are allowed to propagate their aggression, the more difficult it will be to put them out of business. If they succceed in Iraq, they will destoy Lebanon and even Jordan in no time. No good will come out of any of it.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 21, 2014 11:59 PM
    The US and NATO have gone completely lost their minds and gone insane.... (on one hand), they arm and train the tens of thousands of (foreign) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremists from all over the world in Jordan and Turkey, to wage war on the Shia Muslim government of Syria, (and they have no loyalty or allegiance to anybody).... and being Sunni Muslim ultra-extremists, armed and trained by the US and NATO to fight Shia Muslims, (they ended up joining), the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist army of al-Baghdadi, "The Emir of the Believers" who then declared the "Caliphate of all Islam"..... with an (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army armed and trained by the US and NATO, to kill Shia Muslims, (and now), every person of any other religion, or ENSLAVE them....

    The US and NATO created (by ignorance), the Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist army in Jordan and Turkey, (and then), al-Baghdadi came from "Al-Qaeda of Iraq" into Syria and recruited this US and NATO armed and trained Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist army into his (ISIL) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist army, (and then), went back to Iraq with his (ISIL) army, and joined with "Al-Qaeda of Iraq" ad the Sunni Muslim tribes in the "Sunni Triangle" and the Sunni Muslims in "The Triangle of Death" in Iraq, and the Sunni Muslims in the Iraq army.... to fight against the Shia Muslims, and the Iraqi government..... thanks to the US and NATO insanity, to cause regime change?...... (Who's responsible for Foley's death?)

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    August 21, 2014 10:12 PM
    If we want durable peace in this world and specially in Middle East, then we have to stop to sponsor terrorist group in the name of freedom fighters. There should be justice in Middle East, only then there will be durable peace other wise this type of human tragedy will remain in Middle East. How many poor and helpless lives we have lost in Middle East in the LAST 65 YEARS. Any body can make simple arithmetic. Current conflict started from Syria, when world Big Power with proud of their wealth gave training and weapons in terrorist group in Syria to Finish Asad Govt. How many peoples become homeless, children without parent, handicap children, man and woman. Because USA, EU, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordon were giving money, weapons, medical treatment and training for these terrorist group. We have learn from our past mistakes and do not support terrorism in the name of freedom fighters. What is going on in Libya because of Big Power game. Every body knows who is behind against Gaddafi & Co in Libya. Now no body is helping Poor Libyans from terrorist group.

    by: j from: usa
    August 21, 2014 8:59 PM
    What I dont get - how can they convert oil refinery/well gains into cash? Just getting shipments of arms is trivial --- but converting oil to cash - who else is involved?
    In Response

    by: Miranda from: Sweden
    August 22, 2014 4:26 AM
    The whole civilised world should morally and by all other available means stand behind USA i this battle between civilisation/humanity and barbarism.

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    August 21, 2014 8:51 PM
    U.S. ground forces will be back in there, eventually. It is becoming inevitable. All this talk in Washington is ground breaking for a return to boots on the ground in Iraq, and eventually, in Syria.
    Watch and see, it will happen. Obama is not going to be the one to authorize it, but he will lay the groundwork for the next President (whoever that will be) to HAVE to take such steps.

    "Once more, unto the breach" -Winston Churchill, 1940, quoting Shakespeare.

    by: Rock Wood from: Denver
    August 21, 2014 7:52 PM
    We need to finish what we started its that simple.
    In Response

    by: Moses
    August 22, 2014 10:36 AM
    Yes you are right, however much preparation is required to ensure success, including a coalition of nations to deal with this barbaric terrorist group, whose numbers will swell as it advances and overthrows governments. Ultimately it shall become a GLOBAL threat if not dealt with and it could easily incorporate Hamas in Gaza.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora