Washington: US intelligence agencies are reassessing their approach to the Islamic State (IS) terror group as a “regional threat” following three terrorist attacks in three countries over the weekend, media reported.
The US National Counter-terrorism Center is working with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to determine the extent to which the attacks were coordinated by IS terrorists, a report on Politico website said on Saturday.
“IS is very rapidly becoming a global threat and it is doing so on the cheap,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired US Army colonel who was one of the architects of the US military campaign against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
“It can simply evangelise followers and get them to plan and conduct terrorist attacks on their own. This will only continue unless something is done to destroy the IS and reduce its appeal to the extremist fringe in the Islamic community.”
The attacks came just a few days after the group urged followers to “rush and go to make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels”, sparking fears of a spate of attacks during the Muslim holy month.
They were also carried out just days before the first anniversary of IS’s declaration of a “caliphate” in the territory it controls.
Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce, however, did not see the attacks as coincidental.
“These attacks show that the (IS) threat is spreading well beyond Iraq and Syria,” he said.
“A continued haven there means more attacks across the region, Europe and even here at home,” Royce warned.
He called for “better regional cooperation and more targeted air strikes” adding that: “We also must destroy the online messaging that attracts so many young people with the counter message that [IS] offers no peace, no community, and no future.”
Earlier this year, US’s top intelligence officer James Clapper, currently the Director of National Intelligence, said the IS was only a “regional threat” and “probably plans to conduct operations against regional allies, Western facilities, and personnel in the Middle East”.
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, downplayed the threat to Western nations, saying IS was the product of “an internal conflict (internal to Islam)”.
But the eerily timed terror attacks by IS terrorists on three continents on Friday, collectively hailed by IS sympathisers on social media as “Bloody Friday”, were prompting the security US agencies Pentagon and CIA to reconsider the terror group’s reach, ambitions and the threat it and its adherents may pose to the country, the report said.