- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday that the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, the night before will be a “harbinger of more activities in the West” committed by Islamic State militants as they continue to be defeated in Iraq and Syria.

“I think sadly, Manchester will be a harbinger of more activities in the West,” Mr. Gates said, speaking Tuesday at a conference on Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood put on by the Washington, D.C., think-tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

On Monday night, at least 22 people were killed and over 50 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, an event that was mostly attended by children, teenagers and their parents.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attack Tuesday, announcing on a social messaging app popular with the terrorist group that “One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gather of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester,” The New York Times reported.

Mr. Gates on Tuesday continued that it made no difference whether ISIS had directly organized the attack or only served as the encouraging factor. It doesn’t change the fact that Europeans need to be vigilant in assessing and defeating the threat of the terror group’s radical ideology.

As coalition forces continue to close in on Raqqa and on Mosul, ISIS militants will try to infiltrate Europe as refugees and continue their fight against the West, continued Mr. Gates, who is a former head of the CIA and was defense secretary under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“You will see ISIS become more active and more aggressive in a variety of places in the West, having lost the caliphate and the cities like Raqqa and Mosul … as people leave, scurry away from those sites — and that doesn’t mean they’re defeated individually, or they’ve lost their commitment to attacking the crusaders, or whatever they call us — they’ll change their tactics,” Mr. Gates said.

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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