Statement by Central Intelligence Agency Director John O. Brennan as Prepared for Delivery Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
And as I often tell young officers at CIA, I have never seen a time when our country faced such a wide variety of threats to our national security. Run your fingers along almost any portion of the map from the Asia Pacific to North Africa and you will quickly find a flashpoint with global implications. China is modernizing its military and extending its reach in the South China Sea. North Korea is expanding its nuclear weapons program. Russia is threatening its neighbors and aggressively reasserting itself on the global stage. And then there is the cyber domain, where states and sub-national actors are threatening financial systems, transportation networks, and organizations of every stripe, inside government and out.
John Brennan tells Senate Intelligence Committee,
Our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.
Speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan said,
Unfortunately, despite all our progress against [Daesh] on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach. The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower, and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly.
[Daesh], however, is a formidable, resilient, and largely cohesive enemy, and we anticipate that the group will adjust its strategy and tactics in an effort to regain momentum.
In the coming months, we can expect [Daesh] to probe the front lines of its adversaries for weaknesses, to harass the forces that are holding the cities it previously controlled, and to conduct terror attacks against its enemies in Iraq and Syria.
To compensate for territorial losses, [Daesh] will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside territory it holds. A steady stream of attacks in Baghdad and Damascus demonstrates the group’s ability to penetrate deep inside enemy strongholds.
He also projected that it,
Will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.
Moreover, the group’s foreign branches and global networks can help preserve its capacity for terrorism regardless of events in Iraq and Syria. In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.
Since at least 2014, [Daesh] has been working to build an apparatus to direct and inspire attacks against its foreign enemies, resulting in hundreds of casualties. The most prominent examples are the attacks in Paris and Brussels, which we assess were directed by [Daesh’s] leadership.
We judge that [Daesh] is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks. [Daesh] has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel.
Further, as we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino, and elsewhere, [Daesh] is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group. Last month, for example, a senior [Daesh] figure publicly urged the group’s followers to conduct attacks in their home countries if they were unable to travel to Syria and Iraq.
At the same time, [Daesh] is gradually cultivating its global network of branches into a more interconnected organization. The branch in Libya is probably the most developed and the most dangerous. We assess that it is trying to increase its influence in Africa and to plot attacks in the region and in Europe.
On GWOT, Brennan said the CVIa would remain vigilant,
Meanwhile, [Daesh’s] Sinai branch has established itself as the most active and capable terrorist group in Egypt. The branch focuses its attacks on Egyptian military and government targets, but it has also targeted foreigners and tourists, as we saw with the downing of a Russian passenger jet last October.
A long and difficult fight would continue against the group whose number of fighters now far exceeds what al-Qaeda had at its height.