Posted: 10:05 am Thursday, June 16th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
Just days after the nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida that killed 49 people, the Director of the CIA told Congress that despite gains on the ground against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, that group has been able to successfully extend its terror reach around the world and presents a major threat to U.S. and Western interests.
“Our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged, testifying at a rare public hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“The numbers of ISIL fighters now far exceeds what Al Qaeda had at its height,” Brennan said, detailing their advances in Libya, Egypt and other countries.
While the CIA believes the Islamic State is trying to send people around the world to commit terrorist acts, the biggest threat continues to be people who are ‘inspired’ by the group, not actually directed by them.
“As we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group,” Brennan said.
As for the Orlando attack, the CIA Director said the investigation so far does not show anything other than someone who was inspired – not directed from abroad.
“We have not been able to uncover any direct link between that individual, Mateen, and a foreign terrorist organization,” Brennan told Senators.
Overall, Brennan said the U.S. faces an increasingly difficult world.
“I have never in my 36 years of national security service, seen a time when there is such a dizzying array of issues of national security consequence,” Brennan said.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.