Britain gears up to stamp out ISIS militants
British PM says all options would be considered in mission to crush extremists and support the West
Britain has agreed to join the mission to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), British media reported late Friday.
Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the West faced a “generational struggle against poisonous extremism,” and added that no options would be ruled out in supporting the region.
“Clearly, military commitment is required and what I’ve said is that nothing is ruled out. We’ll act in our national interest,” Cameron told the NATO summit in Newport, Wales.
“We must use all the instruments at our disposal – humanitarian, diplomatic and military. We have agreed to offer a NATO training mission for Iraq as soon as a new Iraqi government is in place. The fight [against ISIS] must be led by the Iraqis themselves. But we will continue to encourage countries in the region to support this effort and to work with our partners on the ground to take all necessary steps to squeeze this barbaric terrorist organization out of existence,” Cameron was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “The bottom line is we will do what is necessary.”
Earlier Friday, top U.S. intelligence officials warned that ISIS members fighting in Iraq and Syria posed an “immediate” threat to Europe as a significant number carry European passports.
The danger presented by militants potentially returning to the West to carry out attacks has prompted more cooperation between U.S. and European intelligence agencies in a bid to track terror suspects, the officials said.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, suggested ISIS militants presented a more serious danger for European states than for America, given the number of recruits from EU countries.
“The threat is quite immediate for Europe,” Olsen told reporters. “They see it really as right on their doorstep.”
In remarks Wednesday, Olsen said ISIS militants, who have seized territory in Iraq and Syria, pose no imminent threat to the United States, but would eventually try to attack America if left unchecked.
Olsen’s deputy, Nicholas Rasmussen, told the same briefing Friday that information sharing about terror suspects between Washington and its European partners has dramatically improved since the ISIS threat emerged in recent months.
U.S. requests for information that would have met with some delays or resistance more than a year ago are now quickly acted on, Rasmussen said.
“We are pushing on an open door as opposed to cajoling and begging for information,” he added.
European governments are “much more willing to share that kind of information,” he said.
The intelligence officials also said the U.S. government was keenly aware of sophisticated ISIS propaganda efforts and indicated more could be done to counter the jihadists’ media “messaging.”
The U.S. government has used different acronyms and names for the group, including ISIL or ISIS, but Olsen said he did not expect Washington to refer to the extremists as the “Islamic State,” as it could play into their propaganda.
“I don’t think we will call them ‘Islamic State.’ It gives them a degree of credibility” that they do not deserve, he said.
Obama's plan for an international anti-jihadist coalition is a "strong message of support" for Baghdad and its fight against militants, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday.
"We welcome that, and we have repeatedly called on our international partners for help and support because this threat is a very deadly threat... not only to the people of Iraq or the region, but to Europe, to America, to NATO," Zebari told AFP.
"This is basically our fight... but we need the support -- our capacity is limited, and we need the support to enhance our capacity," he said.
"Nobody's thinking of any ground troops at this stage -- they are calling for air support, for tactical support, for arming the forces on the ground, like the (Kurdish) Peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces, and also to provide... intelligence, reconnaissance," he added.