CIA director warns Islamic State has other terror attacks ‘in the pipeline’

By Brian Bennett

Tribune News Service

European intelligence agencies are overwhelmed by suspects linked to Islamic State and are struggling to clamp down on a black market in military assault rifles like those used in Friday’s massacre in Paris, CIA Director John O. Brennan said Monday.

In London, Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday his government plans to recruit an additional 1,900 intelligence officers to work for MI5, Britain’s domestic security outfit; MI6, its foreign spy agency; and GCHQ, which conducts electronic surveillance.

The British and other allied spy services in Europe face “an overwhelming number of cases they need to pursue,” Brennan told a security forum at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic & International Studies think tank in Washington.

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    Their intelligence agencies are trying to “boost” their capabilities and resources in the wake of the coordinated attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, he said.

    Thousands of Europeans have joined militant groups in Iraq and Syria, raising fears they could come back and launch terrorist attacks in their home countries. French intelligence services believe 1,800 French citizens have traveled to fight in Syria and Iraq since 2011.

    Although Europe has stricter gun regulations than the United States, criminal networks have trafficked in AK-47s and other weapons looted from Soviet bloc armories in the 1990s after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    “We know that there are smuggling networks inside of Europe not just in terms of human traffickers — the stocks that were overrun in Eastern Europe as far as all of the AKs and other things — I think there is an active black market that all of the criminal elements will be able to take advantage of,” Brennan said.

    Brennan warned that the coordinated attacks in Paris are not a “one-off event” and that Islamic State has other attacks planned.

    “I would anticipate this is not the only operation ISIL has in the pipeline right now,” Brennan said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State.

    A purported Islamic State video was released Monday that warned more terrorist attacks are coming in Europe, and specifically threatened to launch an attack in Washington.

    “I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and (gun) silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before,” a militant says on the video, which appears on a site used by Islamic State to post its messages, according to Reuters.

    The figure also says “as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington.”

    It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin, north of Baghdad.