Islamic State 'poses danger to West despite losses'

Islamic State 'poses danger to West despite losses'
2 min read
17 June, 2016
The West is still at risk of attacks by the Islamic State, despite the group suffering huge losses across the region, a US spy chief has warned.
CIA John Brennan believes the West is still at risk of IS attacks [Getty]
The Islamic State [IS] group still maintains its notorious global reach despite suffering a string of major losses in Iraq, Syria and Libya, a US spy chief warned on Thursday.

Militants are still able to both conduct and inspire attacks across the globe, director of the CIA John Brennan told US lawmakers shortly after a gunmen who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people at a nightclub in Florida.

"Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach," Brennan said, using an alternative acronym for the group.

He went on to say IS fighters are "probably" identifying a range of avenues to sneak agents into the West, mentioning infiltration of refugee flows, smuggling routes and regular traffic.

"We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks," Brennan said.

"ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West."

Last week, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a nightclub. 

However, US President Barack Obama said on Monday there was no evidence that the massacre of 49 people in Florida was directed from abroad or was part of a larger plot.

"It does appear that at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIL, but there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by them," he said, also using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Islamic State group has suffered a recent series of military setbacks and lost territory in both Iraq and Syria as government forces, including international troops from the anti-IS coalition, launched an offensive against the group in August 2014.

Most recently, Iraqi pro-government fighters that launched a large-scale military operation to retake the strategic IS-hub Fallujah, managed to erect government flags at the main government compound after defeating IS.

Similarly in Libya, militants - numbered at an estimated 5,000 - have been put under pressure by pro-unity-government forces.

On Saturday, the troops claimed to have seized the port in Sirte as they continued to advance towards the city centre.

The government of national accord [GNA] forces continue in their advance towards the city centre after retaking a residential area in the east of Sirte, spokesman Mohammed al-Aredi told The New Arab.