US intelligence chief: No confirmation ISIS responsible for Manchester attack

US intelligence chief: No confirmation ISIS responsible for Manchester attack
© Greg Nash

The director of national intelligence said Tuesday that the United States has not confirmed claims by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that it is responsible for a terrorist attack in Manchester, England.

“They claim responsibility for virtually every attack,” Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Defense: Pentagon lists construction projects at risk from emergency declaration | Officials deny report on leaving 1,000 troops in Syria | Spy budget request nears B Trump administration requests nearly B for spy budget Dems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump MORE told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We have not verified yet the connection.”

Coats later added that the United States has confirmed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, though it's still assessing whether others were involved.

His colleagues in the intelligence community have been talking with their counterparts since the attack, and he has a call planned with his British counterpart for after the hearing, he said.

A suicide bomber set off an explosive as people were leaving a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande late Monday. Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured.

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On Tuesday, ISIS said that one of its “soldiers” placed a bomb in the concert, according to the Site Intelligence Group.

Coats said, however, that the attack is a reminder that the threat of terrorism and ISIS is “not going away.” Despite losing much territory in Iraq and Syria, the group still has the ability to carry out attacks on the West, he said.

Asked whether retaking ISIS's de facto capital in Syria, Raqqa, is more imperative after the attack, Coats said “that won’t solve the problem” because of lone-wolf attacks and ISIS’s spread to other, ungoverned territory.

But, he added, “driving a stake through the heart” of ISIS will “significantly improve the situation.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFormer astronaut running for Senate in Arizona returns money from paid speech in UAE Fox's Roberts: Trump 'glared at me like I've never seen him glare at me before' Lou Dobbs: Political criticism of McCain 'not an exhumation of his body' MORE (R-Ariz.) opened the hearing by calling the terrorist attack in Manchester a “gruesome reminder that the world is on fire.”

“Everywhere we turn, we can see threats to the world’s rules based order that underpins global security and prosperity,” he continued.

McCain also questioned whether the Trump administration has a plan to address terrorism and other threats.

“I have heard few compelling answers,” he said, “about how the United States intends to use its alliances, its trade, its diplomacy, its values, but most of all its military to protect and defend our national interests and the rules based order that supports them.”

— This report was last updated at 10:16 a.m.