(CNN) – America’s top intelligence official says it’s now “inevitable” that ISIS will attempt an attack in the United States.
That stark warning from CIA Director John Brennan comes after months of growing anxiety amid attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Barrel-bombing in Syria as the major powers struggle to put a delicate ceasefire together..
While the carnage continues, ISIS fights on undeterred and a fresh warning from America’s top spy.
CIA Director John Brennan telling CBS ’60-minutes,’ ISIS will try to attack inside the U.S..
“I’m expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material or whatever else that they need to do or to incite people to carry out these attacks, clearly. So I believe that their attempts are inevitable. I don’t think their successes necessarily are,” said CIA Director John Brennan.
U.S. officials tell CNN there’s no specific, credible threat of a significant ISIS plot inside the U.S. right now. However, they say they’ve been on heightened alert for the past two months since the San Bernardino attack. Also, the brutal ISIS assault in Paris woke up the intelligence and law enforcement communities to what ISIS is capable of.
Why hasn’t ISIS launched a Paris-style attack, so far, inside America?
“Partially it is geography, the distance between here and Syria and Iraq, the fact that you have a very small number of Americans who are a part of ISIS, while in Europe you have thousands of individuals. Here you just have a few-hundred. You have heightened attention from the FBI and the intelligence community,” said Lorenzo Vidino, Director of George Washington Univ. Program on Extremism.
Analysts say a more realistic scenario is for ISIS to instigate a lone-wolf attack from afar. Similar to what happened in Garland, Texas, last May. Two gunmen tried to shoot up a prophet Mohammed drawing contest but were killed by law enforcement outside the event.
One of the attackers was believed to have been inspired over social media, possibly even directed by Junaid Hussein, a notorious ISIS operative in Syria, later killed in a U.S. drone strike. While the Garland attack failed, it still served as an instrument for ISIS to instill fear inside America.
“The Texas shootings were very good for ISIS, in terms of its international portrayal of itself. It demonstrated that ISIS had tentacles, as it wanted the world to see that stretched all the way into the heart of the crusader enemy,” said Charlie Winter, Terrorism Researcher at Georgia State University.
The FBI says one of the gunmen in Texas traded more than 100 messages on the morning of the attack with a terrorist overseas but officials still don’t know what he said.