US officials say Islamic State still poses global threat
ISIS remains a global threat despite losing the once vast territory it held in Syria and Iraq, US officials warned today.
Militants forming underground cells and an expansion of jihadists into new areas is reportedly causing a threat of persistent violence in the region.
Thousands of extremist fighters are scattered around the Levant, where officials see a ‘persistent, resilient, rural terrorist level of violence’ in whichever country the emerge.
Ambassador James Jeffrey, the State Department envoy to the international coalition fighting the ISIS, warned the West needed to remain vigilant to the threat from ISIS as it splintered across Iraq and Syria.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey speaking during a hearing on Iran before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington. Jeffrey, now the State Department envoy to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State, told reporters that thousands of the extremist are scattered around Syria and Iraq
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces ousted Islamic State militants from the last piece of their self-declared caliphate earlier this year.
But ‘the ISIS brand lives on around the world’, State Department counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales said as he joined Jeffrey to provide an update on the fight against the organization.
‘ISIS branches and networks now span the African continent from east to west and north to south,’ Sales said.
‘They’ve increased the lethality of their attacks, they’ve expanded into new areas, and they’ve repeatedly targeted US interests.’
Sales also said the U.S. is also urging countries to take back and prosecute foreign fighters who flocked by the thousands to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State.
‘Across the coalition, we need to prosecute ISIS leaders, fighters, financiers, and facilitators for the crimes they’ve committed,’ Sales said.
An internal security patrol escorting women, reportedly wives of ISIS fighters, in the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria earlier this month
‘That includes building the law enforcement capacity of partner states that have the will to act but might lack the resources or expertise to do so. It also means repatriating and prosecuting foreign terrorist fighters.’
President Donald Trump echoed that message outside the White House Thursday, saying, ‘We have 2,500 ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take…We have thousands of ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take and let’s see if they take them. And if they don’t take them, we’ll probably have to release them to Europe.’
The US government has returned two U.S. citizens in recent weeks to face prosecution.
The most recent case, announced on Thursday in Dallas, involves a 23-year-old man who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State and was later detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
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