Top officials from U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that ISIS will likely conduct direct attacks in the U.S. and Europe in 2016, adding that the jihadist group has already taken advantage of the refugee situation in Syria.
CNN reports that Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Capitol Hill on Tuesday, detailing threats imposed by the notorious extremist group in the country.
The Islamic State “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016,” Stewart reported.
Clapper supported this claim, saying ISIS terrorists are currently active in almost 40 countries and is the number one threat worldwide. Members of the violent group have reportedly camouflaged among innocent refugees who escaped the war in Syria and have fled to countries in Europe and the U.S.
According to Clapper, these terrorists were “pretty skilled at phony passports so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travellers.” The ISIS allegedly seized passport facilities in Syria and had used its machines in producing fake passports.
The “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” reported that there were “approximately five dozen” ISIS-affiliates arrested in the U.S. in 2015.
Clapper, who released the assessment prior to his testimony, added that there are about 6,900 members from Western countries out of the 38,200 international ISIS fighters who travelled to Syria from 2012.
ISIS recruiters have been radicalizing curious young people into joining the group, promising “a paradise” based on the principles of Islam. The group has been using social media to communicate with interested Muslims and lure them into flying to Syria.
“You should always be careful on the Internet,” warned a fifteen-year-old French girl who was able to escape the ISIS recruitment on CNN. “Don’t even go there, don’t speak with them, don’t take any risk. [And] for those who are already radicalized, please open your eyes to reality. Don’t go to Syria: it’s suicide, it’s death.”