by Dayo Laniyan
With the beheading of the US journalist James Foley still fresh in everyone’s minds, American Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, warned on Thursday that the Islamic State (ISIS) presented a greater threat than al-Qa’ida and must be put down quickly.
“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether its in Iraq or anywhere else,” he said.
“They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.”
ISIS has become a force to be reckoned with since growing its strength during the Syrian civil war. Starting from early this year, they have captured large amounts of territory in Iraq, especially seizing the northern city of Mosul in June. The fighting so far has displaced at least 1.2million Iraqis.
Other American military figures concurred, with Gen. Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that IS was “an organisation that an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated.”
“To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organisation which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border.”
James Foley had first been captured by Islamic militants in 2012 while he was covering the struggle against the Assad regime, and it emerged that a special US military mission tried but failed earlier this summer to rescue Mr Foley and other US hostages held in Syria.
Despite all this, neither Hagel or Dempsey have announced a change in the limited military campaign, and according to reporters in Washington, it is unlikely that the US President will deepen his involvement in Iraq or Syria.