CIA director warns that ISIS has other plots 'in the pipeline'

CIA director warns that ISIS has other plots 'in the pipeline'
© Getty Images

The director of the CIA on Monday warned that the deadly terrorist assault on Paris is just a taste of what’s to come.

The coordinated attacks Friday evening, which killed at least 129 people across the French capital, are just the latest signs of a maturing “external operations agenda” that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “is now implementing with lethal effect,” John Brennan said.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I certainly would not consider it a one-off event,” Brennan warned a standing-room-only crowd at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIL has in the pipeline,” he added, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “Security intelligence services right now in Europe and other places are working feverishly to see what they can do in terms of uncovering it.”

Friday evening’s attacks in Paris came a day after ISIS claimed responsibility for the deaths of 43 people in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, and two weeks after 224 died in a Russian plane that crashed in Egypt.

To many, the string of incidents across the globe are a sign that the extremist group is dramatically increasing its focus beyond the narrow slice of the Middle East in which it has established a caliphate, or Islamic rule.

Earlier on Monday, reports emerged of a new ISIS video in which the extremist group planned to “strike America at its center in Washington,” among other international centers. 

“It’s not just Europe,” Brennan said. “I think we in the United States also have to be quite vigilant.”

On Monday, Brennan said the CIA had “strategic warning” that something was in the works ahead of the attacks on Paris.

“We knew that these plans or a plot by ISIL was underway, looking at Europe in particular as the venue for carrying out attacks,” he said.

However, he blamed the inability to fully uncover the plot on new privacy concerns following government whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks about global intelligence powers.

“I do hope this is going to be a wake-up call, particularly in areas of Europe where there has been a misrepresentation of what the intelligence and security services are doing,” Brennan said, in a preview of a new stage in the fight over global spying powers.

The CIA chief’s remarks highlighted the long-simmering frustration that national security hawks and intelligence officials have had following Snowden’s leaks. Critics say the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of privacy in the years since the former government contractor’s leaks, undercutting security officials’ ability to protect the nation.

“In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of handwringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that make our ability — collectively, internationally — to find these terrorists much more challenging,” Brennan said, amid the first signs of finger-pointing following Friday’s attacks.