The Defense Department is on alert for possible retaliation from ISIS in the wake of the killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, by U.S. special forces last weekend, according to The Associated Press.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie spoke of the possible threat Wednesday as part of the most detailed account to date of the operation and echoed warnings by both critics and allies of President Trump that the operation had not eliminated the threat from the terror group.
“It will take them some time to re-establish someone to lead the organization, and during that period of time their actions may be a little bit disjointed,” McKenzie said. “They will be dangerous. We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack, and we are postured and prepared for that.”
The comment echoed remarks by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said the greater threat to the U.S. was the “virtual caliphate” of radicalized Americans with no connection to on-the-ground ISIS forces in Syria who commit acts of domestic terror in the group’s name.
Similarly, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has warned that conditions in Syria are “ripe for ISIS to reconstitute” even after al-Baghdadi’s apparent death.
Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the committee Wednesday he believes al-Baghdadi’s death will have little effect on ISIS’s day-to-day operations.
“If there were significant attacks that were in the planning, that planning will continue. It won’t have that much effect,” Travers said, according to the AP.