WASHINGTON – A video released by the Islamic State, or ISIS, showing the beheading of missing American journalist James Wright Foley in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes has underscored concern of new information indicating ISIS has declared war on the United States.
The Islamic supremacist group also is training jihadists to attack targets in the United States and Europe, according to U.S. intelligence sources.
The sources told WND the al-Qaida splinter group is comprised of thousands of European and American jihadists who fought in the Syrian civil war and came to Iraq to train and fighting, first on behalf of various jihadist groups and now ISIS.
ISIS has declared the establishment of a caliphate that includes portions of northeastern Syria and western and central Iraq. It has threatened to expand throughout the Levant, which includes Syria, southern Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
ISIS could join forces with other al-Qaida groups such as Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, or AQAP, and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, approximating all of the land Muslims conquered after the death of Muhammad in A.D. 632.
The development would make Europe particularly vulnerable from the south, especially through Spain, as WND recently reported.
Britain is especially concerned, since in recent weeks leaflets have been distributed in the London area declaring “Khilafah established,” or caliphate, without openly identifying with ISIS.
In addition, the executioner of Foley, as recorded in a video posted on YouTube, spoke with a distinct London accent. Voice recognition also is being tested to determine whether the murderer had been a prisoner at the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In the video, Foley’s killer displayed a second missing American journalist, Steven Joel Scotloff, and said he was next if there was any further U.S. air attacks on ISIS positions in Iraq.
“We are very concerned by the apparent fact that the murderer in question is British,” British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told the London Daily Telegraph. “We are urgently investigating.”
Foley and Scotloff went missing in 2012 in Syria, and the videos are the first confirmation of their captivity.
In all, there are more than 2,000 Europeans and some 100 Americans who have gone to Syria to join ISIS.
According to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London, among the Europeans are some 700 French, 500 British, 100 Dutch, 300 German and 300 from various other countries, including Spain.
European Union officials say that over the years, as many as 4,000 Muslims, particularly with European passports, may have joined ISIS.
In June, for example, Spanish officials arrested eight men attempting to recruit militants to fight for ISIS and then return to Spain.
Last fall, Britain’s MI-5 domestic security service stopped a plot to conduct an attack in London on the scale of the one conducted in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.
In that attack, some 164 people were killed by 10 Pakistanis from the Sunni Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, which is an instrument of the Sunni Pakistani government.
The developments pose a serious problem for the U.S., since many European countries have visa waivers with the U.S., allowing their nationals to fly to the U.S. with a minimum of background checks. The problem is compounded since security officials in Europe and the U.S. are unable to identify most of the jihadists who hold valid passports.
There would be no record of their having fought for ISIS, since they can travel through Turkey to link up with the jihadists in Syria.
The intelligence sources tell WND that officials in Europe and the U.S. are unprepared for what could be large-scale attacks in the U.S. and Europe.
They add that ISIS recruiting of European and American Muslims suggests a long-term plan in the making.
As democratic countries, there is little European and U.S. authorities can do when the ISIS flag is flown in peaceful demonstrations.
Officials point out ISIS can carry out its plans since it is well-financed and has the following of young people who then will return home to wage jihad.
They add that in an attempt to prevent jihad in the U.S. and Europe, the Obama administration must confront ISIS in the Middle East, but President Obama has rejected such action.