US National Counterterrorism Center Director Speaks on Threat of ISIL

September 03, 2014

United States National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olden spoke today on the threat of the Islamic of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS and Islamic State) at an event sponsored by the Intelligence Project at Brookings.

He argued that "ISIL threatens to outpace al Qaeda as the dominant voice of influence in the global extremist movement" and referred to the rise of ISIL as "one manifestation of the global jihadist movement over the past several years."

Olsen outlined what he believes to be the necessary actions to be taken to defeat ISIL, including the formation of a global coalition of international partners and an "all-of-government" multilateral approach that would coordinate both international and domestic forces. 

He also emphasized the necessity of a representative government in Iraq: "Only a government in Iraq that is representative of all Iraqis and will make the necessary political reforms to unite the country will be effective in combating the group."

Key points of the strategy Olsen outlined to deal with ISIL included degrading ISIL's capacity to wage war and diminishing its territorial control through direct action, continued support for Iraqi security forces and the moderate Syrian opposition, working with partners to highlight the atrocities committed by ISIL while emphasizing the successes of Iraqi and Kurdish forces, and enhancing US intelligence on the region while working to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq. 

Olsen concluded by emphasizing the urgent need from a US perspective to address the threats posed by ISIL: "ISIL and other groups threaten our people and our interest in the region and if left unchecked, they will seek to carry out attacks closer to home."


Based on an article published by Brookings

Photo courtesy of Sebastian Backhaus.

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