The United States has warned against underestimating the ability of terrorist groups to continue their terrorist operations.
"Particularly ISIS and affiliated groups with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, that they are operating not simply on what takes place on the battlefield that gives them strength or weakness, but they are operating on the basis of a theocracy, a theology, an ideology that we will continue to see for perhaps years ahead in various places of the world," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats.
"So we see those that were engaged in Syria moving to other ungoverned spaces. We see the tentacles of ISIS and al-Qaeda tactics in different places in the world, North Africa, Philippines. We've just seen that take place, ISIS claiming credit for that," he added. "So ISIS will continue to be a threat to the United States, and we're going to have to continue, as [CIA] Director [Gina] Haspel said, to keep our eyes on that and our interest in the realization that this
Coats also highlighted heightening concerns about chemical and biological weapons, saying that the intelligence community assesses that North Korea, Russia, Syria, and ISIS "have all used chemical weapons over the past two years, which threatens international norms and may portend future use."
He described the threat coming from biological weapons as ‘more diverse”, warning that terrorism "is positioned to increase in 2019."
"While ISIS is nearing territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, the group has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide,” he said. “ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is showing signs of confidence as its leaders work to strengthen their networks and encourage attacks against Western interests. We saw this most recently in Kenya as Al-Shabaab attacked a hotel frequented by tourists and Westerners."