Top military adviser downplays immediate ISIS threat to US

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said Sunday that if the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a direct threat to the United States, he would recommend that the U.S. military act against the group in Syria.

"I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it," Dempsey told reporters on a military plane en route to Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.

"I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it." Dempsey stated, adding that ISIS doesn’t yet appear to pose a direct threat to the U.S and remains just a regional threat to the Middle East.


There is no sign, he explained, that ISIS militants are engaged in "active plotting against the homeland, so it's different than that which we see in Yemen,” comparing the group to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Dempsey didn’t seem to elaborate on what the U.S. would consider a direct threat. The beheading last week of U.S. journalist James Foley has already been deemed a “terrorist attack" by U.S. officials.

His comments also come after a slew of key lawmakers have warned ISIS threatens the U.S. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said ISIS militants are “one plane ticket away from U.S. shores.”

Rogers added that the Obama administration is underestimating the number of ISIS militants with U.S. and Western passports, claiming that they are many more than 2,000.

So far, President Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and has reportedly been considering attacking the group in Syria.

Dempsey said he thinks U.S. allies including Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia could join the fight against ISIS.

"I think ISIS has been so brutal, and has wrapped itself in a radical religious legitimacy that clearly threatens everybody I just mentioned, that I think they will be willing partners," he said.