Obama: US intel underestimated ISIS

2014-09-28 18:50
US President Barack Obama. (AP)

US President Barack Obama. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State (ISIS) activity inside Syria, which has become "ground zero" for jihadists worldwide, President Barack Obama said in a CBS television interview broadcast on Sunday.

Conversely, the United States overestimated the ability of the Iraqi army to fight the militant groups, Obama said in a 60 Minutes interview taped on Friday, days after the US president made his case at the United Nations for action.

Citing earlier comments by James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Obama acknowledged that US intelligence underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

Islamic militants went underground when US Marines quashed al-Qaeda in Iraq with help from Iraq's tribes, he said.

"But over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said according to a clip of the interview broadcast earlier.

"And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world."

Obama last week expanded US-led air strikes, which began in Iraq in August, to Syria and he has been seeking to build a wider coalition effort to weaken Islamic State. This group has killed thousands and beheaded at least three westerners while seizing parts of Syria and northwestern Iraq.

Clapper told a Washington Post columnist this month that US intelligence had underestimated Islamic State and overestimated Iraq's army.

"I didn't see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming," Clapper was quoted as saying. "I didn't see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable."

Obama outlined the military goal against Islamic State: "We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fuelling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters."

But he said a political solution is necessary in both Iraq and Syria for peace in the long term, according to the interview.

Read more on:    isis  |  barack obama  |  iraq  |  us  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.