'Lone wolf' terror attacks inspired by ISIS to persist

2016-06-28 22:28


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

Washington - The threat of "lone wolf" acts of terrorism inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) will persist in the West, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday, even as the extremist group loses battles and territory in the Middle East.

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Islamic State has always sought to strike the United States and other Western nations. But the group is now acknowledging it may be unable to hold onto ground in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, blunting its quest for an Islamic caliphate. So ISIS has changed its message and its recruiting tactics, he said.

"'We're still going to be around, still join us,'" said McGurk, describing what he called ISIS propaganda. "And they're trying to inspire these lone wolf attacks around the world."

McGurk's testimony comes two weeks after a single gunman who pledged solidarity with the Islamic State killed 49 people and injured 53 at an Orlando nightclub. McGurk said no direct link has been found between the Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, and ISIS. He also said these types of attacks are extraordinarily difficult to prevent.

McGurk offered a bullish assessment of the coalition's efforts to dismantle the Islamic State as lawmakers raised concerns over the pace of the operations. Senator Ron Johnson seized on McGurk's statement that the anti-ISIS coalition embarked on a three-year campaign plan to degrade and defeat the extremists.

"When did the three-year clock start?" Johnson said. "Because President Obama declared our goal of degrading and ultimately defeating [the Islamic State] 22 months ago."


McGurk said the campaign started in September 2014. It took a significant amount of time to pull together local forces capable of taking on what was then "the most formidable military force on the ground", he said.

"We're not going to defeat them within 14 months are we?" Johnson asked.

"I wanted to go a lot faster than that," McGurk replied.

McGurk said the Islamic State's days in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, are "numbered". The Islamic State remains firmly in control of Mosul, which was once home to a million people. Iraqi leaders have pledged to liberate Mosul this year. But McGurk said the US won't put a timeline on the Mosul operation.

Morale inside the extremist group is plummeting, McGurk said, as the forces arrayed against it are gaining momentum.

"Whereas [ISIS] once promised lavish pay for recruits, and free services in its 'caliphate,' it is now slashing pay, cannot provide services, and is facing internal resistance," McGurk said. "We know from other sources, as well, that [ISIS] fighters are panicking on the battlefield, foreign recruits are now looking to return home, and leaders are struggling to maintain discipline, even despite the threat of execution for disobedience."

Five weeks after a military operation began, a senior Iraqi commander on Sunday declared the city of Fallujah in Iraq had been "fully liberated" from the Islamic State, giving a major boost to the country's security and political leadership in its fight against the extremists. Fallujah was the first city to fall to ISIS more than two years ago.

McGurk said that stabilising areas after the Islamic State has been removed can be even more important than clearing them in the first place. He said it's encouraging that no significant territory liberated by coalition-backed forces has been reclaimed by the extremists.

Read more on:    isis  |  us

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.

Inside News24

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.