Egypt, now at the forefront of fighting ISIS, is warning it has intelligence revealing the global jihadist group is planning a worldwide offensive this spring or summer that could reach targets within the United States.
Interrogations of ISIS members captured in recent weeks in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula Egyptian and information collected by Egyptian security forces indicate ISIS is planning ground offensives this spring and summer aimed at taking over more territory across the Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf, a senior Egyptian intelligence official told WND.
Some of the information indicates the new offensive will not be limited to the Arab world. Timed to coincide with its planned surge, ISIS is plotting possible attacks using cells abroad.
ISIS and its jihadist allies could activate cells to carry attacks in Europe and possibly within the U.S., the senior Egyptian official warned.
The official advocated the deployment of significant ground troops acting on multiple fronts to stop ISIS’ progression. He complained the Obama administration and international community has been hesitant to take major action against ISIS advances.
Egypt on Monday sent warplanes over the border into Libya to bomb ISIS targets after the terror group’s well publicized, savage attack on Egyptian Christians.
Egyptian F-16 fighter jets reportedly struck ISIS training camps and weapons depots along Libya’s coast, including targets in Derna, where Islamic extremist groups have joined with ISIS.
One day earlier, ISIS allies released a video that appears to show the execution of 21 Coptic Christian prisoners. The Coptic Church is headquartered in Egypt.
The Egyptian government reportedly dispatched its foreign minister to New York in a bid to rally international support for their military intervention in Libya.
Last week, WND reported Egypt estimates ISIS and its allies currently boast an army of about 180,000 fighters.
An Egyptian intelligence document, the contents of which were obtained by WND, warns that while the U.S. has been attempting to maintain a coalition to fight ISIS, the Islamic terrorist organization has itself been hard at work building a sustainable coalition of jihadist gunmen.
The 180,000 figure is up to six times greater than a CIA estimate from last September, which placed the number of ISIS fighters at between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters.
According to Egypt, ISIS has created an umbrella army with the Taliban, Al Shabab, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and local jihadist groups from Yemen, Mali, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian Sinai.
Cells inside U.S.?
There have been numerous claims of ISIS cells embedded in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Michael Steinbach, head of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, was asked by CNN whether or not there are ISIS cells in the U.S.
Steinbach said, “[T]here are individuals that have been in communication with groups like [ISIS] who have a desire to conduct an attack,” and those people are living in the U.S. right now.
He conceded the FBI finds it extremely difficult to track every American traveling abroad who can join ISIS or receive training by foreign terrorist organizations.
“I’m worried about individuals that we don’t know about that have training,” Steinbach said. “We know what we know. But there is a number that’s greater than that that we don’t know.”
“Once you get to Europe, you can easily get down to Turkey and into Syria,” he noted.
In August, former CIA officer Bob Baer told CNN he had been “told with no uncertainty there are ISIS sleeper cells in this country.”
CNN cited two unnamed U.S. officials rebutting the claim but still expressing concern ISIS militants with passports might travel to the U.S. to launch attacks on American soil.