The number of weapons the U.S.-led air war has fired against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since 2014 (over 63,061) is approximately twice the maximum number of fighters ISIS had in Iraq and Syria as of the beginning of that air war (31,500), according to numbers released separately by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Yet, if ISIS is denied all of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, even the Obama administration is not arguing that the terror threat it poses to Europe and the United States will end.
In fact, FBI Director James Comey warned Congress in September that the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria will cause “killers” to flow out of those nations in the hope of murdering people in Western Europe and the United States.
“The so-called caliphate will be crushed,” Comey said. “The challenge will be through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of very, very dangerous people. They will not all die on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before.
“We must prepare ourselves and our allies, especially in Western Europe, to confront that threat,” Comey said. “Because when ISIL is reduced to an insurgency and those killers flow out, they will try to come to Western Europe and try to come here to kill innocent people. We have to keep our eye on it and be ready for it.”
Brett McGurk, Obama’s special envoy for the coalition fighting ISIS, predicted to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick in an October interview–as summarized in a subsequent IG report–“that the terrorist threat posed by ISIL globally could last well into the next decade, even after it is defeated in Iraq and Syria.”