It has been three months since the head of the FBI publicly acknowledged that ISIS is a much bigger deal than al Qaeda. Since that time, reports of ISIS global activities have only grown more alarming.
And credible warnings keep on coming.
Last week, The Dallas Morning News quoted a local FBI official who stated that the group is “reaching out online through social media to urge disenchanted young people in North Texas to launch terror attacks.”
The Dallas office of the FBI has every reason to be seriously concerned about online recruiting. They have seen it happen. Last May, two local men armed with rifles attempted a terrorist act in Garland, Texas. One of them had expressed an interest in ISIS on social media.
The flood of refugees out of the Middle East has sparked additional fears. Opposition is building in Congress against the US accepting additional refugees, in part because of concerns extremists might be in their in ranks. Congress is looking for more assurances that officials are properly screening refugees for security risks.
While Washington is worried about ISIS exporting terrorists, the group allegedly released a video pleading with refugees to return and join the “Caliphate.”
News of the video appeared among contrasting reports over the state of recruiting. A recent study from the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Violence describes a small but growing number of foreign-fighters defecting from ISIS. On the other hand, there is scant evidence that desertion is widespread. While foreign fighters may be leaving by the hundreds, they are still flowing in by the thousands.
The root of the global Islamist insurgency remains centered squarely in Iraq.
That’s not likely to change any time soon. The administration just announced the lead coordinator for Iraq-Syria is stepping down. That move is widely interpreted as a sign the White House knows what it is doing isn’t working.
Speculation abounds that the default US position may be to rely more on Russia and Iran to counter ISIS. That’s unlikely to work. While Moscow and Tehran don’t want ISIS messing with them or threatening to topple the Assad regime in Syria, both are happy to see ISIS distract the West and threaten American interests and allies in the region.