ISLAMIC State militants represent a major threat to the US that may surpass that once posed by al-Qaeda, US military leaders said yesterday.
“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated,” said chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey speaking to reporters at the Pentagon.
“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” added Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hagel’s assessment of Islamic State, which gained strength during Syria’s civil war and swept into northern Iraq earlier this summer, sounded a note of alarm several days after the group posted a video on social media showing one of its fighters beheading American photojournalist James Wright Foley.
So far, President Barack Obama has sought to limit his renewed military campaign in Iraq to protecting US diplomats and civilians under direct threat.
But US officials said they had not ruled out escalating military action against Islamic State, which has been increasing its overt threats against the US.