CIA Director John Brennan warned Friday that Islamic State has “snowballed” beyond Syria and “romanticized” its narrative through the Internet, contradicting Obama administration officials’ claims that they’re making headway against the terror group.
“ISIL demonstrates the worst in developments because it has basically been a phenomenon that has snowballed in terms of its appeal,” Brennan said, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations meeting, according to a video published by C-SPAN. “They have had to give a fair amount of success using the technologies on the Internet to present their narrative in ways that romanticize what is going on there.”
Brennan expressed concern that groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram and others in Libya, Egypt and southern Asia are “trying to get on the bandwagon” of Islamic State’s campaign of violence and terror.
Describing Islamic State militants’ successful push throughout Iraq, Brennan said “they were within a couple dozen miles” of Baghdad, before Iraqi forces were able to beat them back.
Reired Gen. John Allen, President Obama’s special coordinator for the coalition against IS, claimed in February that half of the terror group’s leaders in Iraq had been killed, according to Bloomberg View.
In a speech later that month at the Munich Security Conference in February, Kerry supported Allen’s claim, saying half the group’s Syria-based leadership had also been killed.
“I am very skeptical of the claim that the coalition has killed 50 percent of the leadership of the Islamic State, whatever that means,” Princeton University scholar Cole Bunzel, who closely follows IS, told Bloomberg View.
Michael Smith, whose firm Kronos Advisory firm monitors Islamic State’s official communications and social media accounts, told Bloomberg View that his company has not seen any confirmation that members of the group’s Shura Council have been killed. “Jihadi groups typically eulogize slain leaders,” he said.
“If the administration is confident about these claims, it should name names. Because highlighting such kills demonstrates the efficacy of our counter-campaign, and that can deter individuals from joining or supporting the Islamic State. But lying about our achievements plays right into the Islamic State’s PR game.”