U.S. officials were briefed in May on the rise of Islamic terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, and one senior official’s take couldn’t be more blunt: “It makes you want to kill yourself.”
The official who spoke to the Wall Street Journal said that was his assessment of the intelligence on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which was shared at a closed-door gathering of Gulf states in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the time.
In recent days, ISIS has taken large swaths of Iraq back from the nation’s army and security forces, including Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city, and Tikrit.
On Thursday, the BBC reported that the Iraqi Army also fled Kirkuk, leaving it in the hands of Kurdish forces before an Islamic offensive is set to begin.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Arab counterparts agreed during the May meeting that Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq need to be dealt with, The problem: no one agreed on what to do about it, the Journal reported.
“The U.S. can no longer be the sheriff for the whole world,” Maryland Rep. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, told the Journal. “We can’t be everywhere, and we can’t always use military boots on the ground.”
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House intelligence committee, told the Journal that vast amount of land controlled by ISIS, which aims to create an Islamic caliphate, should worry Americans.
“Guess what? These people will come home eventually and they are going to come home with, I believe, intentions to fulfill al Qaeda’s dream for another attack on our homeland and, certainly, another attack on our Western and European allies,” Mr. Rogers said.