The Islamic State could well pose a more serious threat than al-Qaeda did leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel says.
“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday. “They are beyond just a terrorist group. . . . This is beyond anything that we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”
Hagel invoked the potential of a 9/11-level attack, and warned that the group posed “an imminent threat to every interest we have.” Protecting those interests and combating the Islamic State, which has taken over significant parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months and beheaded American journalist James Foley, will be a long-term commitment, he said.