Secretary of State John Kerry said in London today that people shouldn’t be “dismayed” by ISIS cells in their neighborhoods but “they should be encouraged” that governments are “flushing them out.”
Kerry met with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and counterparts from other coalition nations for an anti-ISIS coalition “steering group” meeting.
“But as we have put this together now in a matter of a few months, we have gone from zero at the end of September to now, in January, in our fourth month, having stopped ISIL’s advance in Iraq, having negated their resources, their capacity to move foreign fighters, to a significant degree, and changed their operations as a result of what we’ve been able to do,” Kerry said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and the purpose of coming here is to bring everybody’s best advice, everybody’s thoughts about where there may be weaknesses, everybody’s thoughts about things we can do better, put that together, improve our own performance and operation, and lay down the strategy for the days ahead.”
However, Hammond noted separately that it could take two years to get the Iraq army up to snuff to be able to push back ISIS. And Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stressed to British media that they can’t stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.
On the home front, Kerry said, “Police forces, law enforcement community, intelligence community of many countries have come together in an incredibly effective way to fight against an insidious, long-time planning process that has been in place.”
“And in a sense, we’re flushing them out. These sleeper cells have been there for years now. Many of these plans have been in place for a long period of time, long preceding what we’ve been doing with respect to ISIS. But the truth is that these groups are planning and have been planning for a long period of time, going back to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 in New York, to attack Western interests and to go after anybody that they disagree with. Their goal is to suppress and to take over and to expand a very nihilistic, unbelievably oppressive sense of how people ought to live.”
Hammond added that “we always said this would take time,” but Iraqi forces “will be capable and ready at some point to push back against ISIL.”
“And in the meantime, we have to continue the work to undermine ISIL’s message in our own countries and to protect our own homelands with security measures both here and across the continent, in collaboration with our partners,” the UK secretary said.