CIA Director Warns of More ISIS-Inspired Attacks

The group “will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside territory it holds.”

Andrew Harnik/AP

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CIA director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that his agency had not unearthed any new evidence of ISIS cooperation in the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday, but he warned that the group is likely to launch new attacks as the United States and its allies continue striking the group in Iraq and Syria.

Brennan painted a positive picture of the anti-ISIS campaign in the Middle East, saying the group is losing territory, fighters, and important sources of cash in the face of American airstrikes and battlefield advances by Iraqi forces and Syrian opposition groups. But Brennan also warned that gains against ISIS have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach” and predicted that “ISIL will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside territory it holds.”

Brennan, like FBI director James Comey, said his agency has “not been able to uncover any direct link” between the gunman who killed 49 people in Orlando on Sunday and any foreign terrorist groups, but emphasized that “ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group.” The group encourages people with few, if any, ties to ISIS to pledge allegiance and carry out attacks in its name, giving it much wider reach and fueling the perception that it’s a powerful force in the West. The Orlando attack followed that model, featuring a shooter who only pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack itself and may have only watched propaganda material online.

The briefing focused on ISIS but touched on other topics from the Iran nuclear deal—”So far, so good,” Brennan told the committee on Iran’s compliance with the term of the agreement—to the ongoing encryption debate and even a question on torture seemingly inspired by Donald Trump’s support for resuming the use of torture if he is elected. Brennan confirmed that he would not resume waterboarding or other acts of torture even if ordered to by the next president. “I do not believe such aggressive coercive techniques are necessary,” he said in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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