Kerry: 'Reduce' ISIS to a 'Nuisance' Like al-Qaeda

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer pats down a traveler as he works his way through security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Secretary of State John Kerry told Rolling Stone magazine that “defeating” ISIS will look “like al-Qaeda — you reduce it to a nuisance, where it’s not a daily threat.”

Though the Obama administration has vowed to destroy ISIS, President Obama mirrored that al-Qaeda analogy back in September 2014, saying the U.S. is “going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL the same way we have gone after al-Qaeda.”

That was the same month that al-Qaeda announced a new chapter, uniting militant groups under al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. In February they butchered to death an American blogger visiting Bangladesh, Avijit Roy.

“It doesn’t have operational capacity in a lot of countries. Its core leadership has been destroyed. It’s been reduced in its ability to threaten countries. Obviously, you’ll have a few radicals around, but you terminate its ability to have a core, a state, as well as revenue-raising, paying salaries, hiring people, attracting people and giving orders to people. All of that can come to an abrupt end if we get our act together,” Kerry said of ISIS, which has expanded in Libya, the Caucasus and West Africa.

Kerry added that “whether it happens or not is up to Iran and Russia.”

Just before saying ISIS had to be reduced to an al-Qaeda-style “nuisance,” the secretary of State said that “no matter what, we have to destroy ISIL.”

“The political track is about Assad, and it is about Syria. ISIL remains the enemy of everybody. Even the Russians have realized that [destroying ISIL] is not so easy. They don’t want to piss off every Sunni country,” he said. “So the Russians have an incentive to try to work here. And hopefully what happens is we can get a transitional government that can invite countries to come and fight Daesh – and everyone can fight Daesh in a coordinated way. It’s a very simple equation.”

Most of the interview, though, was focused on climate change.

“If you look around the world, the potential for mass dislocation is rising exponentially right now. We saw massive numbers of people uprooted in Syria and moving into Damascus. The drought in the region did not cause what happened, but it exacerbated what happened. It creates greater instability,” Kerry said.

The Paris attack, he said, “certainly underscores the global nature of Daesh.”

“It’s not directly related to climate change, but it’s part of the web of global interconnectedness – and it shows how one security challenge is a challenge for everybody,” Kerry added.