In the judgment of the U.S. intelligence establishment, the Islamic State does not represent an immediate danger to the U.S. homeland, The New York Times
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said authorities had no convincing data that the Islamic State (ISIS ) is planning to attack the U.S. homeland. And Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, characterized ISIS as less of a danger than al-Qaida was prior to 9/11.
It is al-Qaida and its spinoffs that continue to garner the most attention from U.S. intelligence, according to the Times.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has warned
that the Islamic State poses an "imminent threat to every interest we have." And President Barack Obama has been criticized for moving too slowly to confront the threat.
Some analysts take a contrary position. They say the ISIS danger has been distorted and public opinion in the United States misled to the extent that half the country is worried
about an impending 9/11-like attack. Former Obama administration counterterrorism adviser Daniel Benjamin dismissed the discussion about ISIS as farcical, with Cabinet members and military officials talking in "lurid" terms that have no substantive basis, according to the Times.
In a Boston Globe opinion piece
, Benjamin ridiculed the idea that ISIS presently menaced the United States. "The danger to Iraq and its neighbors is real," but reacting with "hysteria and missteps in the field" will not make Americans safer, Benjamin wrote.
The contrarian camp warns that Obama may have been rushed into a war. They say intensified U.S. airstrikes could instigate Muslim radicals to retaliate against the U.S. homeland.
"It's pretty clear that upping our involvement in Iraq and Syria makes it more likely that we will be targeted by the people we are attacking," according to Andrew Liepman, a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center.
Others fear degrading ISIS will bolster Syria's Bashar Assad, the Times reported.
While experts say the Islamic State currently lacks the capability to carry out a 9/11-like attack, some analysts add that allowing the group to create a safe haven in Iraq-Syria would heighten the menace to the U.S. homeland, Business Inside
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