NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The new war in Iraq has local terrorism experts on high alert. The leader of the insurgent group swallowing city after city there has vowed to bring his war to New York City, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has his eye on New York and his intentions are evil. “We don’t take any threat lightly,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. De Blasio was talking about the latest security concern for the FBI and the NYPD. Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni militant group that is waging a new war in Iraq, had some chilling final words when he walked away from a U.S. detention camp in 2009. “I’ll see you guys in New York,” he said.
“We’re quite aware of the statements he’s made. We’re quite aware of the growth of this organization and it’s something I talk to (NYPD) Commissioner (Bill) Bratton about regularly,” de Blasio said. Manny Gomez, a former FBI agent who investigated major terrorism cases, said al-Baghdadi is a man more careful about his public exposure than Osama bin Laden, wearing masks and shunning photographs.
He’s become more dangerous with his success in Iraq and his threat to New York City is being taken very seriously. “This person has proven that he is definitely a threat. He will carry out his promises and he has the resources in which to do so,” Gomez said. “This guy’s on the move. He’s only gaining strength. He’s gaining more resources — vis-à-vis weaponry, intelligence backing. His numbers are growing. His financial strength is growing. Success breeds success and this guy, unfortunately for us, has been very successful.”
CBS News’ National Security Analyst Juan Zarate said there’s no timetable for an attack on the U.S., but cautioned there’s also no telling what ISIS will end up looking like going forward. “I think the grave threat here is that you have the seeds of a new terrorist movement emerging very aggressively,” Zarate said.
Experts say the fact that President Barack Obama is contemplating drone strikes in Iraq could be that al-Baghdadi is one of their targets — if they can figure out where he is. “I’m sure that both the CIA and the Department of Defense are looking for ways to neutralize this person, basically to kill him and make him a non-threat,” Gomez said. Security experts told Kramer the FBI and the NYPD will be actively questioning informants both here and overseas to develop leads about al-Baghdadi’s plans.
ISIS ON THE MOVE
President Obama was in Pittsburgh on Tuesday calmly discussing job creation while Sunni militants continued to win more territory in Iraq. The president’s national security team continued to weigh military options and requests for help from the Iraqi government.
Everything is on the table, including airstrikes, Kramer reported.
“They’re not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.
With the security situation beginning to unravel, Obama has decided to send some U.S. forces back to Iraq. The president gave Congress notice that 275 troops are going in to protect U.S. personnel and the American Embassy.
The president is also looking at deploying a Special Forces team to train Iraqis, and, as mentioned earlier, drone strikes against ISIS remain a possibility, Kramer reported.
ISIS is a Sunni militant group. Sunnis are said to be more militantly religious than their Shiite counterparts in Iraq, and are trying to establish an Islamic state with strict adherence to Sharia law in parts of Iraq and Syria. The group released a video reportedly showing the moments before fighters executed Shiites serving in the Iraqi army.
This as Congress has continued to debate whether to send troops back to Iraq. Even lawmakers who were hawkish about going into Iraq originally are holding their powder, Kramer reported. More than 6,000 American soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion.
Yet some lawmakers just want Obama to decide on a course of action.
“The president must quickly provide us with a strategy and a plan to address the threat posed by the insurgency,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker told CBS This Morning the administration should also step up its diplomatic game.
“Secretary Kerry, in my view, should be on a plane right now for Baghdad,” Crocker said.
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