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US Plan: Drive a Stake Through Heart of ISIS

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Planes taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve to defeat ISIS.
Jets taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve to defeat ISIS. (Photo: Department of Defense)

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats outlined the Trump administration’s plan for defeating the Islamic State while providing testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee May 23. However, he warned we can expect homegrown attacks to continue.

Senator John McCain asked Director Coats “In light of the tragedy in Manchester last night, doesn’t it lend significant urgency to retaking Raqqah where all this originates?”

Coats responded “Well, that won’t solve the problem, particularly the homegrown and inspired attacks.

“Clearly going to the heart of ISIS and driving a stake through that heart, we assess, will significantly improve the situation, the plotting and the planning that comes from a centralized caliphate or safe haven for ISIS. We’ve seen the damage that’s occurred.

However he added reconquering ISIS held territory in Iraq and Syria would not be enough to stop the violence.

“We do assess, however, that it’s ideology and methods have spread like tentacles into many places, most of them ungoverned countries and been — and sent some foreign fighters back home that might want to carry — carry on their mission. But clearly the strategy I believe is the right strategy and that is to go to the heart and disperse their planning and their leadership.”

Coats warned terrorism would increase as ISIS loses territory and switches away from trying to take and hold territory.

“We anticipate that ISIS will be in transition over the coming year, shifting toward more traditional terrorist operations rather than conventional military engagement in Iraq and Syria,” he told the Senate. “ISIS will continue to lead, enable and inspire terrorist attacks, both unilaterally and with the assistance of its formal branches and networks.”

Even as the organization itself is degraded, Coats said “the ISIS narrative will continue to inspire lone actors, making homegrown violent extremist attacks and propaganda an enduring threat.”

Because of this “Lone actors will continue to maximize impact with low-budget attacks that do not require significant resources or outside training,” he warned.

Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who also addressed the committee, said “we are making significant progress against trans-regional terrorism, but still have a long way to go.”

He added that despite U.S. successes “this fight will not end soon.”

You can watch the full testimony, much of which focuses on other issues, on Mediate.

 

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.