“This country,” NBC’s foreign correspondent Richard Engel reported on Monday live from Baghdad, “parts of it, anyway – are now undeniably safe havens for terrorists.”
As disconcerting as this revelation is, Engel’s dispatches from Iraq on Monday were far more disturbing than that.
The reporter added that Iraq’s security forces are in a “standoff” with ISIS militants after an offensive aimed at retaking the city of Tikrit failed to achieve that objective. The capacity of Iraq’s military to dislodge ISIS from Iraqi territory, even with the aid of questionable allies like Iran, is now in doubt.
Worse, as many intelligence officials warned earlier this month, the threat to the United States posed by ISIS is growing by the minute.
Engel reported that ISIS has secured the support of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s top bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri. He will assist in ISIS’s quest to develop more powerful improvised explosive devices.
The NBC News reporter added that American and British officials are deeply concerned about the number of foreign fighters joining ISIS’s ranks. He added that U.S. officials say that the terror group is crafting weapons and training foreign fighters with the express design of attacking targets in the United States and Europe.
What’s more American officials confirmed to Engel that approximately 70 American citizens have passed through Syria and are now currently working with ISIS. “Multiple US intelligence officials tell NBC News that he current terror that against US targets from ISIS is ‘extremely high,’” Engel wrote on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, the political debate in the United States has been consumed over the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate for businesses like Hobby Lobby case and President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will pursue immigration reforms via executive order.
Take a look at how America’s rated the issues of abortion and immigration on a list of priorities in an annual Gallup survey conducted in January:
Sooner or later, the ISIS threat will demand Americans’ attention. Hopefully, it will be on America’s terms.