(CNSNews.com) - Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that U.S. efforts have not reduced the “terrorism capability and global reach” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach,” Brennan said in his written testimony.
He told the committee that “the U.S.-led coalition has made important progress against ISIL” on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.
“The group appears to be a long way from realizing the vision that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi laid out when he declared the ‘caliphate’ two years ago in Mosul,” Brennan said, citing that among other indicators, fewer people are traveling to Syria to be foreign fighters.
“Several notable indicators are trending in the right direction. ISIL has lost large stretches of territory in both Syria and Iraq. Its finance and media operations have been squeezed, and it has struggled to replenish its ranks of fighters, in part because fewer foreign fighters are traveling to Syria,” he added.
Brennan also cited reports that suggest more people have become “disillusioned” with the terrorist group and have defected.
“Moreover, some reports suggest that a growing number of ISIL members are becoming disillusioned with the group and are eager to follow in the footsteps of members who have already defected,” he said.
“The anti-ISIL Coalition is taking steps to exploit these vulnerabilities. In addition to efforts underway to liberate cities like Fallujah and Manbij, the Coalition is also removing ISIL leaders from the battlefield, thereby reducing the group's capabilities and its will-to fight,” Brennan said.
“Last month, for example, a US airstrike killed an influential ISIL leader in Al Anbar. ISIL, however, is a formidable, resilient, and largely cohesive enemy, and we anticipate that the group will adjust its strategy and tactics in an effort to regain momentum,” he said.
“Beyond its losses on the battlefield, ISIL's finances are taking a hit as well. Coalition efforts have reduced the group's ability to generate revenue and have forced it to cut costs and to reallocate funds. Yet ISIL is adapting to the Coalition's efforts, and it continues to generate at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue per month, primarily from taxation and from crude oil sales,” Brennan said.
“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach. The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower, and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly,” he added.