ISIS, a terrorist group known around the world for the horrific attacks they carry out, is one of CIA Director John Brennan’s greatest concerns. I met with him at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia this past weekend where he told me that ISIS is “dedicated to killing Americans.”
“These are individuals that masquerade under a purported Islamic banner in order to rape, pillage and plunder, steal and kill. I think we have to really recognize them for what they are; they are in no way a religious organization. They are just a bunch of mass murderers, Brennan said in our interview.
We’ve seen them attack cities all around the world, their most recent large-scale attacks were in Baghdad, Iraq and Istanbul, Turkey. They have claimed responsibility for attacks here in the homeland, such as San Bernardino and Orlando, but it’s unclear if ISIS directed these attacks or if the perpetrators were simply inspired by their rhetoric.
Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history, now pales in comparison to ISIS.
“ISIL is very different, in many respects, than Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda, at its height, had several thousand individuals. With ISIL, first of all, you’re talking about an organization that probably counts tens upon tens of thousands of individuals who are either core fighters or sympathetic supporters or are adherence to this,” Brennan said.
Director John Brennan said that while the United States has the benefit of geographic location, we are not immune to a terrorist attack. ISIS has an extensive social media that creates high-quality propaganda videos. Their social media presence, Brennan says, often draws in young people and persuades them to join the terror group.
“Young citizens are particularly vulnerable to ISIL’s propaganda on the internet,” Brennan said.
He also suggested that U.S. citizens embrace ‘diverse elements’ in their communities, “I think in the United States in our communities and our cities there really needs to be the effort made at the local level to engage with the diverse elements of our community. Individuals that may have come here recently and are feeling alienated and they don’t feel as though they can assimilate into the communities. It’s important for us, as Americans, who come from all countries around the world to really be the melting pot that we embrace others from outside, as opposed to having this suspicion of somebody just because they may have a different heritage or a different religion.”