The U.S. will put a “huge dent” in the Islamic State this year, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.
“I think that we are going to put a huge dent in them in the course of this year — there’s no question in my mind,” Kerry said in an interview with CNN during his trip to Brussels, a city that was ravaged by terrorist attacks Tuesday that left more than 30 killed and injured hundreds more.
“But it is going to take a number of years, probably, to reduce the impact of the ideology of people who will continue to carry an anger or a willingness to engage in some kind of act individually, as a lone entity,” Kerry added, citing Al Qaeda forces as an example. “Even though we destroyed the core of Al Qaeda, and we did, Al Qaeda dispersed. There are Al Qaeda operatives out there who continue to represent a threat, but they don’t represent a complete shredding of the fabric of your life.”
Kerry maintained that the U.S. is going after the Islamic State — also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh — but connected progress in degrading the terrorist group to ongoing talks over the political future of Syria, where the Islamic State has its headquarters.
“There isn’t one single country anywhere that supports Daesh,” Kerry said. “Daesh is isolated. That’s why I can say to you with such confidence we will destroy it, because every country in the region that surrounds it is opposed to Daesh, and the sooner we can deal with [President Bashar] Assad and his presence in Syria, the sooner we will have an ability to go after Daesh and ultimately deliver on the promise I’ve just made.”
Kerry also said the U.S. is “slowly and steadily deteriorating” the Islamic State’s ability to recruit and carry out its ideology.
“There are some who have gone, but there are less going and there are less able to go today,” Kerry said. “And as Daesh continues to get beaten, as its leadership continues to be decimated, I believe the attraction is going to be reduced, and I think you will see a lot fewer people believing that as a narrative worth associating with or putting your life on the line for.”
Many people have begun to realize that the Islamic State’s ideology is a lie, Kerry remarked, but it’s also possible that others will carry out future attacks.
“I hope and pray we won’t” see such strikes, Kerry told MSNBC, “but we all know that we’re living in a world where it’s very easy for somebody who wants to kill themselves to go out and hurt other people when they do it. And it’s very, very difficult for law enforcement anywhere. They have to get it correct 24 hours a day, every day of the week, 365 days of the year. Somebody [who] wants to go blow themselves up has to get it right for 10 minutes.”
Kerry’s comments come amid reports that a U.S. raid this month killed a top deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared “caliph” of the Islamic State.
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