Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday, telling lawmakers that a small group of violent extremists will attempt to overcome the logistical challenges of mounting such an attack.
In testimony before congressional committees, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other officials described the Islamic State as the “pre-eminent terrorist threat.” The militant group can “direct and inspire attacks against a wide range of targets around the world,” Clapper said.
Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the Islamic State will probably conduct additional attacks in Europe and then attempt the same in the U.S. He said U.S. intelligence agencies believe IS leaders will be “increasingly involved in directing attacks rather than just encouraging lone attackers.”
Clapper also said al-Qaida, from which the Islamic State spun off, remains an enemy and the U.S. will continue to see cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea, which also is ramping up its nuclear program.