ISIL could pose threat to U.S., Europe, officials say

U.S. counterterrorism officials have dramatically ramped up their warnings about the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), concluding that the well-armed group is expanding its ambitions outside the Middle East and may be planning terror attacks against western Europe — and even the U.S. homeland. ISIL’s conquest of vast swaths of Iraqi territory this spring and summer netted it a “significant” arsenal of U.S. weapons from two Iraqi military bases, including hundreds of tanks, heavily armored Humvees, assault rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, officials say. One U.S official tells Yahoo News ISIL is now considered “the most potent military force” of any terrorist group in the world.

As its capabilities grow, it has attracted thousands of foreign extremists — some of whom are going home to start cells.

a U.S. counterterrorism official

Given that President Obama has placed sharp limits on U.S. airstrikes and confined them to Iraq, that effectively makes ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his top deputies — almost all of whom were once in U.S. custody — off-limits to U.S. military action. The bottom line, U.S. counterterrorism officials say, is that new strategies are urgently needed to counter the surging ISIL threat.

We don’t assess at the moment this [the threat from ISIL] is something that will collapse on its own.

a senior U.S. counterterrorism official