Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, laid the picture out fair and square in his annual review of national security threats to the US House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 3.
Islamic State has steadily extended its reach despite near-daily bombing of its forces, he reported. “More than two dozen extremist groups around the world have merged with or pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and its ranks continue to swell with new recruits,” the top intelligence official disclosed.
“Islamic State is expanding into unstable parts of North Africa… With affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the group is beginning to assemble a growing international footprint that includes ungoverned and under-governed areas.”
Gen. Stewart’s assessments were strongly substantiated by the events rocking the Middle East in recent weeks.
The day after he delivered this review, ISIS fighters captured one of Libya’s largest oil fields, the al-Mabrook oil field south of Sirte.
Earlier, on Thursday, Jan. 29, the Egyptian army was the victim of the most ambitious and implacable assault ever committed by Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, the Islamic State’s operational arm in Sinai. Although Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi tried to keep this deadly assault quiet, it was impossible to conceal, when between 30 and 50 Egyptian soldiers and security officers were killed in half a dozen towns in the desert peninsula and two Suez Canal cities.
ISIS units gather on North African coast to jump on El-Sisi regime
In northern Sinai, the terrorists hit Egyptian army and police posts and bases in Rafah on the Gaza border, El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, putting some to the torch. The battles there spilled over into the next day while, at the same time, fellow jihadi gangs sowed terror in the Canal cities of Suez and Port Said.
DEBKA Weekly’s counterterrorism sources disclose that the ISIS fighters who attacked the Canal cities came from Libya – not Sinai. They were detached from the hundreds of fighting men ISIS has concentrated in Benghazi and Darnah.
According to an intelligence reconstruction of the event, two ISIS gangs set out from Darnah last week, one stealing into Egypt to strike Suez and Port Said; the other making tracks for Tripoli, where they attacked the Corinthia Hotel and murdered a large group of foreigners and hotel guards.
Islamic State units are assembling in the towns and ports of the North African Mediterranean coast ready to jump into an assault on the El-Sisi regime in Cairo.
Additional jihadist groups are poised in Sinai to strike in two opposite directions – east against Israel and west against the Suez Canal, a key waterway which carries one-third of the world’s oil exports.
Jordan is the latest addition to the ISIS death list.
If President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry believe that with a sp