Johnson: No Credible Intelligence ISIL Planning Biological Attacks Against Homeland
The Islamic State, also known as ISIL, has made threats against the United States and its western allies, but there is no credible evidence that it is planning a biological attack, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Oct. 14.
"We've seen no specific, credible intelligence that ISIL is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack our homeland. But — and this is the big but — ISIL represents a very, very dangerous" threat, Johnson said during a speech at the Association of the United States Army Conference in Washington, D.C.
Last week, Brig. Gen. Maria Gervais, head of the Army's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School,said the military had intelligence ISIL was attempting to acquire biological weapons, and even weaponize bubonic plague through infected animals.
While there is no such biological threat to the homeland from ISIL, the organization has made it clear it intends to harm the United States, Johnson said.
"ISIL represents a very serious threat to our interests. A very significant potential threat to our homeland. They have called for attacks in the West and that's why we're taking the fight to them militarily with air strikes. We simply have no choice. This is something that had to be confronted," he said.
The United States, along with coalition partners, has been leading the offense against the terrorist organization. So far, the U.S. military has only used air attacks, leaving ground battles to coalition partners.
ISIL is a unique and dangerous threat in that it has a ground force in excess of 30,000 individuals in Iraq and Syria, Johnson said. It is also well funded, taking in more than $1 million a day in revenue.
The terrorist organization is adept at social media, he said. ISIL has used platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to disseminate information and recruit new members. It has also used the platforms to showcase violent images and videos of members murdering prisoners, including U.S. citizens.
"A new phenomena we see among terrorist organizations is the very adept use of social media, literature and propaganda that is very westernized in its language and tone. We look at some of it, it's about as slick as I've ever seen in terms of advertising and promotion," Johnson said.
These social media efforts are inspiring many people who have never set foot in a terrorist training camp to commit acts of violence at home, he said.
"We're seeing this more and more," Johnson noted.
Topics: Homeland Security