On the same day a second American journalist was beheaded by the Islamic State terror organization, a former CIA operative says sleeper cells from the group already exist in the USA.
Steve Sotloff, an American journalist with Israeli citizenship who hid both his Judaism and his second passport from the Islamic State terrorists who kidnapped him, nevertheless was beheaded on Tuesday as a “second message to America” to stop air strikes in Iraq.
Many Americans — and perhaps some American leaders as well — may believe the terrorists are contained in the Middle East. But CNN national security analyst Bob Baer, a former CIA operative, said “The Lead” Tuesday that nothing could be further from the truth.
The “people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn’t Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they’re here, ISIS is here, they’re capable of striking,” Baer warned.
Intelligence agents are monitoring the activities of suspected Islamic State terrorists who cross into the U.S. through the southern border from Mexico.
But others, he warned, are American citizens who flew to Syria to fight with “the resistance,” and have already returned.
“They can’t prove it. They’re waiting to get enough intelligence to actually run them in. And then there’s the unknown, of how many people have come back they’re not even aware of,” Baer told CNN. “The people who do this for a living are very alarmed,” he said.
U.S. intelligence officials warned last month the Islamic State organization has been pushing to establish cells outside its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Among its targets have been cities in Europe, as well as countries in the Middle East.
“We have seen an expansion of its external terrorism ambitions,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters at a Washington, DC briefing on August 14. It was estimated there are now more than 10,000 fighters in the ranks of the Islamic State.
In addition, since the group seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul in June, it has significantly swelled its coffers with cash due to also having conquered the nearby oil field and the electricity-generating Mosul Dam. The terror group currently holds five oil fields under its control which provide funding for its operations.
The Islamic State has proved extremely attractive to foreign fighters of every stripe, and thousands are streaming to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside its forces. Among them are many who hold Western passports – including those from the United States and Europe.
After rigorous training, some then return, with orders to start their own terrorist cells at home.