In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers that ISIS was developing and using chemical weapons to move their caliphate forward. “Assad has used chemical weapons against the opposition on multiple occasions since Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Clapper said. “ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent Sulfur mustard.”
Clapper punctuated this revelation by noting that ISIS was the first terror group to use chemical agents since “Aum Shinrikyo used sarin in Japan in 1995.”
Clapper’s warnings weren’t limited to the Islamic State’s activities in the Middle East. He told the senators that Islamic radicals were likely to plot further attacks on the U.S. homeland.
“The perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America, such as those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, might motivate others to replicate opportunistic attacks with little or no warning, diminishing our ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness,” he said. “ISIL involvement in homeland attack activity will probably continue to involve those who draw inspiration from the group’s highly sophisticated media without direct guidance from ISIL leadership.”
These dire warnings came on the same day that the Islamic State successfully pulled off its first bombing inside the Syrian capital of Damascus. The terrorist organization claimed responsibility for a car bomb that blew apart a police officer’s club and killed between eight and ten people, according to local estimates. The blast represents a new tactic for the group, which has up until now avoided areas under strong government control.
The news about ISIS is harrowing enough, but it’s actually scarier to think about how quickly terrorism fell off our national radar in the last month. For weeks after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, it was all anyone was discussing. Now, only three short months later, it’s as though those events happened during the Lincoln administration. Ancient history. What’s up next?
Then again, if we’re just going to talk about it as opposed to doing something about it, what difference does it make? The president himself apparently believes that the real threat comes not from terrorism but rather from cable news channels that cover it too often, whipping the American people into a state of frenzy. But if that frenzy never crystallizes into the political will to destroy this group, he’s right. We may as well talk about something else if we’re just using these attacks as a way to get some drama into our lives. How many Americans have to die before the rest of us say, Ok, that’s enough…