US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses an imminent threat not only to the Middle East but also to the United States as well as to Europe.
Hagel made these remarks on Wednesday during a meeting with US troops at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in the US state of Georgia, The Hill reported.
“This country should not make any mistake on this, nor anyone in Congress — this is a threat to our country,” Hagel said.
“This is a force that is sophisticated. It’s dynamic, it’s strong, it’s organized, it’s well-financed, it’s competent, [ISIL]. And it is a threat to our allies all over the Middle East. It’s a threat to Europe. It’s a threat to every stabilized country on Earth, and it’s a threat to us,” he declared.
According to media reports, the Takfiri militants, who are wreaking havoc in Iraq, were trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012. The reports said that they were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the militants operating inside Syria.
Hagel added that the Pentagon was taking daily assessments from US troops deployed to Iraq, and the “finality of those assessments will be completed in the next few days.”
“We’ll have a further context of what recommendations they’ll make. In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can, as I said in those two general areas, protect our people and assist [Iraqi Security Forces] in their efforts to defeat [ISIL],” Hagel said.
The United States has deployed some 650 troops to Iraq, in addition to the 100 already there, to protect the US assets in the country and help the government in Baghdad in its campaign against the ISIL, which has captured large swaths of territory across northern Iraq after seizing the city of Mosul on June 10.
Those troops are also conducting assessments on the security situation in the Arab country, which includes the flying of drones.
“We are assisting in every way we can to help the Iraqi people defeat the brutal” militants, Hagel said.
“[ISIL] may not appear to be an imminent threat to the United States. It is a threat to the United States. It is a threat, clear threat to our partners in that area, and it is imminent,” he said.
The ISIL militants, who have posted pictures of their terrorist acts against Iraqi citizens online, have vowed to continue their offensive towards Europe.
According to a recent report published in the Daily Mail, the ISIL leadership has unveiled a five-year plan for expanding their control into Europe.
The ISIL plans first to extend its so-called Islamic caliphate into Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, and then conquer as far as Austria.
The ISIL has also posted a video on the web, threatening to invade and take over Spain.
The minute-long footage shows two Spanish-speaking men saying Spain is the land of their forefathers and that they are prepared to die for their nascent Islamic State.