As US Expands War on IS, IS Issues New Threats Against the West

Mar 9, 2016

A video issued by the Islamic State on March 8 reiterates the group's threats to attack the U.S. The video was issued by the Al-Thibat (Steadfastness) Foundation, which is a relatively new and unofficial media center that reflects the atmosphere in IS circles. The English-language video opens with images taken in different battlefields of the Islamic State, accompanied by a commitment that IS will remain steadfast. It then issues a direct threat to President Obama and John Kerry, addressing them as "the Dogs of Rome" and stating that "Paris isn't very far away. We will do to your country the same as we did in Paris. We will kill, slaughter, and burn your people."

A day earlier, Mark Rowley, a British counter-terrorism official, warned that IS was planning an "enormous and spectacular attack." Rowley indicated that the group has shifted its focus from trying to limit attack targets to police and military targets, to implementing wider attacks against "Western lifestyles."

While IS threats against the U.S. and the West are hardly new, it is likely that the group now feels more pressure to retaliate against what seems to be an escalation in American pressure. On February 19, the U.S opened a new front against the Islamic State, attacking a training camp of the group in Libya, killing dozens. In recent months, the U.S. and its allies, France and Britain, have sent Special Operations forces to Libya. A recent report from March 6 indicates that the Pentagon has already prepared a more comprehensive plan for U.S. military intervention in Libya, which is considered the Islamic State's most important safe haven outside of Iraq and Syria.

In Iraq, a U.S. envoy to Baghdad said earlier this week that Washington intends to accelerate pressure on IS. In fact, an elite force of 200 Special Operations troops was recently deployed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, and they captured a "significant" IS operative on March 2.

The more pressure IS feels from the U.S. and the West, the higher its motivation will be to prove to its enemies, as well as its supporters, that it is still a capable force.