ISIS may be planning more major attacks in the vein of this weekend’s deadly attacks in Paris, the head of the CIA is warning.
Speaking at a forum in Washington, CIA Director John Brennan said the threat is greater to Europe than to the United States, but he noted that the Paris terrorist attack will likely not be an isolated incident.
“I certainly would not consider it a one-off event,” Brennan said (via CNN).
“It is clear to me that ISIL has an external agenda, that they are determined to carry out these types of attacks,” he added. “This is not something that was done in a matter of days. This was carefully planned over the course I think of several months, in terms of making (sure) they had the operatives, the weapons and the explosives with the suicide belts.”
He concluded, “And so I would anticipate this is not the only operation that ISIL has in the pipeline.”
Brennan added that ISIS has been beefing up its tactics, and others say the group is beginning to follow some of the precedents set by the older and once much larger terrorist group al Qaeda. The Paris attack carried the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack, which includes long-term planning and small teams that conduct separate and simultaneous attacks. It was a format al Qaeda has used in Europe, including the terrorist attacks in London.
As CNN noted, ISIS did not pose a large a threat to the United States as it does in Europe.
“Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that one big difference between the situation in Europe and that in the U.S. is that “thousands” of fighters have traveled to Syria and then returned to Europe. The number being tracked in America is far smaller — around 40, according to an estimate by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper earlier this year.”
But even as experts downplay the threat to the United States, ISIS has released a video threatening an attack on Washington.
“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington,” a man said in the video.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 16, 2015
— RT (@RT_com) November 16, 2015
The video also promised more attacks against Europe.
“I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and (gun) silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before,” he said.
An officials in the Department of Homeland Security told Reuters that they take all threats seriously, but do not have any credible information on attacks planning in the United States.
The threats come as France has conducted its largest attacks against ISIS in Syria to date. On Sunday, French fighter jets struck an ISIS stronghold in Raqqa. Within France, police raided homes of suspected ISIS militants.
There will likely be more attacks, as French President Francois Hollande promised a “merciless” response.
“We will work alongside our allies to fight this terrorist menace,” he said, adding, “France is strong and even if she is wounded she will get up always and nothing will hold her down, even if we are feeling the grief now… We will defend ourselves.”
The reports of more attacks planned by ISIS also comes weeks after what may be the group’s largest foreign attack: the downing of a Russian jetliner with 224 people on board.
[Image via Twitter/Al Arabiya English]