Islamic State’s “terrorism capacity and global reach” have not been reduced, despite its mounting territorial and financial losses in Iraq and Syria, Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said.
Speaking in a public hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Brennan said the militant group has tens of thousands of fighters around the world, far more than al Qaeda had at its height, Reuters reports.
“Despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism and global reach,” Brennan testified, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.
“We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks,” Brennan said.
The organization “will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics,” such as the attacks in Paris and Brussels in the past year that were directed by its leadership, Bloomberg News quoted Brennan as saying at the hearing.
It will also seek to inspire more attacks similar to those in San Bernardino, California, in December and in Orlando, Florida, this week, he said.
So far, there’s is no indication that Omar Mateen, who carried out the Orlando shooting, the worst massacre in modern US history, had a direct link to Islamic State or any other foreign terrorist organization, the CIA chief said.
Islamic State has as many as 22,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, down from about 32,000, Brennan said.
However, its Libyan branch has become the most dangerous, with about 5,000 fighters, he said, adding that the Islamic State operation in the Sinai succeeded in bringing down a Russian airliner with an improvised explosive device.
“ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West,” Brennan said.
– Contact us at [email protected]