October 17, 2021

Like a sibling spat for attention, ISIS-al Qaeda ‘competition’ could prompt U.S. strikes

Posters depicting ISIL ambition in Syria and Iraq are displayed as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey testify concerning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, September 16, 2014. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Posters depicting ISIL ambition in Syria and Iraq are displayed as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey testify concerning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, September 16, 2014. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

The world is seeing “an emerging competition” for terrorist supremacy between the Islamic State and core al Qaeda groups, which could leave the U.S. in even more danger as their top target, top Americans homeland security and intelligence officials said Wednesday.

“You’re not going to be the leader in the global jihad without striking America,” FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Homeland Security Committee.

Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said there’s already some evidence of the feud. He said a recent announcement by al Qaeda that they’ve added a new affiliate in Asia “could be viewed as an effort by core al Qaeda to reassert its supremacy in this global environment.”

Islamic State militants have been on the ascendance in Syria and Iraq, fielding an army estimated at more than 30,000 fighters and occupying territory in both countries. Its successes have drawn in new recruits and money.

The intelligence and security officials also said the Islamic State has a sophisticated public relations operation that has helped it gain attention — including several high-profile beheadings of journalists, which the Islamic State revealed in Internet videos.

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