Are ISIS ‘External Operations’ Already Under Way?

by Jim Geraghty

The ominous opening notes of the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . 

What Does ISIS ‘External Operations, I Believe, Under Way’ Mean?

Get ready for war:

The Islamic State presents the greatest terrorist threat to Americans since 9/11, and fighting it will take more than airstrikes in Iraq, according to a top member of Congress and a retired four-star general.

The Islamic State, also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has vaulted in notoriety after the beheading of American journalist James Foley last week. On ABC’s This Week, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, called Foley’s murder a turning point.

“I do think they present the greatest threat we’ve seen since 9/11,” McCaul said. “This has been festering for the last year, and now it’s culminating with the killing and the beheading of an American journalist. . . . The American people — it has sort of opened their eyes to what ISIS really is, the true character of ISIS, how savage they really are and . . . their intent to harm Americans.”

Retired Marine general John Allen, who served in Iraq and commanded all allied forces in Afghanistan, said attacking militant support areas in Syria will be necessary. The limited U.S. airstrikes that have helped Kurdish and Iraqi forces retake a strategic dam near Mosul in northern Iraq are not enough, he said.

Another ominous comment from McCaul, which makes one wonder whether it is based upon intelligence reports or speculation:

Their focus right now is establishing the caliphate. But don’t kid yourself for a second, they are [sic] intent on hitting the West. And there are external operations, I believe, under way. . . . We have tens of thousands of foreign fighters from all over the world pouring into this safe haven that’s now been established, including hundreds of Americans with Western passports and legal travel documents, which would enable them not only to travel to Western Europe, but to the United States.

On Friday, local police received this generic warning from the Feds:

In a joint bulletin issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said that while they are “unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland” and find most threats to the U.S. homeland by supporters of ISIS “not credible,” they cannot rule out attacks in the United States from sympathizers radicalized by the group’s online propaganda.

“[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process — it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence,” the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders “present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity,” according to the bulletin.

I don’t want to alarm anyone. But somebody sympathetic to ISIS is taking pictures of U.S. landmarks and holding up a very clear ISIS message: we’re already here.

Maybe it’s just some nut. Or two nuts. Or a network of nuts.

But . . . 

If you’re ISIS, hitting the U.S. homeland is the jackpot, right?

We’re about three weeks away from an early September date that means a lot to Americans and Islamist extremists. Wouldn’t you figure the bad guys would want to do something that day?