The Islamic State terror organization believes that a conflict with the United States is "inevitable," The Washington Post
reported after meeting with a panel of senior intelligence officials.
The five experts met with journalists on Thursday and revealed that ultra-violent ISIS fighters are "patient, well-organized, opportunistic and flexible" under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Their comments appear to conflict with the Obama administration's belief that ISIS is such a toxic organization that it will eventually destroy itself, according to the Post's David Ignatius.
However, one of the officials said, "We don't assess this as something that will collapse on its own. But with pressure and alternatives [that might draw away its Sunni supporters], it could collapse over time."
The panel warned that U.S. airstrikes and drone attacks would only downgrade the Islamic State's military capability and not prevent it from continuing to control vast areas of Iraq and Syria, and lay siege to Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
An official said that the U.S. measures would not be enough "to defeat it, rather than just ratchet it back," while noting that ISIS has grown from 1,500 jihadist fighters in 2010 to 10,000 today.
The panel said it was unlikely that selected U.S. bombings would prevent Baghdadi from one day setting his sights on an American target. "We assess that the group sees conflict with the U.S. as inevitable," said one official.
And in an indication of what the U.S. may eventually face, another official pointed to a chilling Internet warning earlier this year from ISIS that read: "America, we have not turned our gaze away from you."
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has repeatedly threatened the U.S., and earlier this month a spokesman for the terrorists warned that it plans to attack America
and raise "the flag of Allah in the White House."
In summing up the intelligence meeting, Ignatius wrote, "My takeaway from this unusual briefing was that the Obama administration needs a broad strategy that gradually degrades this group back to its earlier size.
"That won't be quick or easy. Baghdadi has benefited from all of the failures of rival Muslim and secular revolutionaries in the Arab Spring. The Islamic State won't implode because of its own mistakes. It will have to be fought, patiently and subtly."
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