The Islamic State is working hard to attack the American heartland, and national security officials have warned Congress there could be an outbreak of violence this year from lone wolf or coordinated attacks.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials described ISIS as the “pre-eminent” terrorist threat in the world and told members of Congress the terrorist group has the ability to plan and coordinate attacks around the world.
Despite the massive intelligence system possessed by the U.S. it’s impossible to cover every threat angle posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups; the average citizen who reports suspicious activity could be the key to thwarting another devastating attack.
Marine Lt. General Vincent Stewart told Congress that ISIS will probably attack Europe again this year and then move on to target American cities and the U.S. infrastructure, according to the Express. The terrorist group ISIS, sometimes called Daesh, is seeking to spread its influence beyond the borders of Syria and Iraq.
“Daesh is likely to increase the pace and lethality of its transnational attacks because it seeks to unleash violent actions and to provoke a harsh reaction from the West, thereby feeding its distorted narrative of a Western war against Islam.”
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence told Congress that ISIS has made its own chemical weapons and used them in the fight against Syria and Iraq. This marks the first time a terrorist group has used chemical warfare since the Tokyo subway attack in 1995, according to Fox News.
“These threats are exacerbated by the security challenges of the Middle East, which is now facing one of the most dangerous and unpredictable periods in the last decade.”
Clapper warned members of Congress that lone wolf terror attacks like ones in Chattanooga and San Bernardino will probably happen again this year and homegrown terrorists pose the most significant threat to Americans, reports Fox News.
“ISIL involvement in homeland attack activity will probably continue to involve those who draw inspiration from the group’s highly sophisticated media without direct guidance from ISIL leadership.”
ISIS has an unprecedented online presence, the director testified, noting the terrorist group’s ability to recruit and carry messages through social media.
That’s one concern that is already being addressed by the Obama administration and California’s Silicon Valley. Twitter reported it suspended 125,000 social media accounts related to ISIS last year while Facebook has stepped up its efforts to combat terrorism and Google laid plans to push anti-terror advertising.
The U.S. is facing a more violent and angry world than it has in the last 50 years, Clapper told Congress, according to the USA Today.
“From the Middle East to South Asia, there are probably more cross border conflicts than since the early 1970’s.”
Despite the numerous conflicts facing the U.S. the greatest tool in the American arsenal remains the average citizen.
Security officials have long said they can’t cover every possible terror threat angle and the average American who sees something suspicious and reports it could be the key to thwarting the next terrorist attack.
Other threats to American interests besides ISIS include cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea along with a restarted North Korean nuclear program. There were also warnings of an imminent collapse of the Afghanistan government and an increased worldwide Russian presence as that country attempts to demonstrate its power.
[Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images]