As airstrikes rain down on targets near Baghdad and northern Iraq, the U.S. Congress is set to vote on a plan that would give President Barack Obama authority to train Syrian rebels to fight the terror group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS. The group has murdered thousands of Iraqis, captured territory from Syria to Iraq and carried out the beheading of three westerners.
Congress' move has many Americans wondering how much of a threat ISIS poses to U.S. soil. Elias Groll, an associate editor at Foreign Policy, discussed what the public can glean from Washington.
"It’s unclear exactly what kind of message the White House wants to send, but I think the bottom line from the White House at this point is that there isn't an imminent attack coming from the Islamic State directed towards the United States, or the U.S. homeland," Groll says. "But, if the United States doesn’t pursue the strategy that the president has now proposed, that might be a likely outcome."
In terms of resources, Groll says the group's ability to take over a large area of Iraq shows their capability. On the other hand, he says those efforts have the group of about 30,000 spread thin.
"Now we see the United States pushing back against them, in conjunction with Iraqi and Kurdish forces," Groll says. "So I think they're now somewhat more on the back heel, but we don't have any indication that right now, they're plotting to attack outside Iraq, or outside of Syria. They appear to be, in fact, quite occupied."