News / Middle East

US Defense Secretary Says Islamic State is Imminent Threat

US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic Statei
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.

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Comment Sorting
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?)

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.

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