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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/11/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. officials warn of the dangers of unchecked Caliphate

Groups of militants who belong to al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Africa have begun to join the new Islamic State which has territory in Iraq and Syria U.S. spy agencies have reported.

Fighters from the Islamic State in their signature black uniforms. The group has taken numerous cities and has now replaced al-Qaeda as the go-to group for jihadists.

Fighters from the Islamic State in their signature black uniforms. The group has taken numerous cities and has now replaced al-Qaeda as the go-to group for jihadists.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/11/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: International, Middle East, Iraq


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These defections are seen as worrisome by U.S. counter-terrorism analysts, who see this as an indication of the new Islamic Caliphates appeal to Islamic militants in the region.

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"Small groups from a number of al-Qaeda affiliates have defected to ISIS," as the Islamic State is also known, a U.S. official with access to classified intelligence reported. "And this problem will probably become more acute as ISIS continues to rack up victories."

This influx of veteran fighters has strengthened the Caliphate, which is already regarded as a potent force in the Middle East. The Islamic State has captured numerous cities in Iraq, taken a major dam, and secured financial wealth which makes them the richest terrorist organization in the world.

One of the major questions facing the U.S. regards President Barack Obama's authorization to use airstrikes against the group. Analysts are not sure if these acts will hurt the Islamic State's ability to draw recruits, or elevate its status among jihadists.

"The mujahideen must strike and seek to execute proactive operations in their own home, America, to discipline America and its criminal soldiers," the jihadist, Abu al-Ayna al-Khorasani, posted online.

Defections to the Islamic State have come primarily from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"It's not to the point where it's causing splintering within the affiliates," said the senior U.S. counter-terrorism official, but these defections have accelerated in recent months and also involve fighters from groups not formally part of al-Qaeda in Libya and elsewhere.

U.S. officials estimate that the Islamic State may now have as many as 10,000 fighters, which including 3,000 to 5,000 foreigners.

Fighters from the Islamic State in their signature black uniforms. The group has taken numerous citi

Fighters from the Islamic State in their signature black uniforms. The group has taken numerous cities and has now replaced al-Qaeda as the go-to group for jihadists.


"They are demonstrating just how advantageous it is to a terrorist-insurgent group to be fighting in the field for years and years as they have been in Iraq and Syria," said Daniel Benjamin, a professor at Dartmouth University who previously served as the top counter-terrorism official at the State Department.

"Their skill at maneuver is really kind of extraordinary compared to groups you would compare them to," Benjamin said. "They are not constrained by that fear of failure other al-Qaeda groups have shown," he added, or the group's tendency to "spend years preparing single attacks."

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