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CIA Director John Brennan warns of more possible attacks in West

By Amy R. Connolly
CIA Director John Brennan warns of more possible attacks in West
CIA Director John Brennan, at left, with Director of the National Security Agency Michael S. Rogers in 2015. Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the United States and its allies are making gains against the Islamic State, but that more attacks could still be on their way. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- A "large cadre" of Islamic State sympathizers in the West with no direct links to the terrorist group could launch more attacks like the one in Orlando, Fla., CIA Director John Brennan warned on Thursday.

Brennan said the Islamic State continues to move forward. despite losing ground in Iraq and Syria. Efforts "have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach," he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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U.S.-led ally forces had lowered the number of IS fighters from about 32,000 in Iraq and Syria last year to around 22,000, he said. At the same time, however, IS fighters in Libya have doubled to around 8,000.

"The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly," he said.

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"To compensate for territorial losses, ISIL will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside territory it holds," Brennan said, using another acronym for the group. It is also known as ISIS and Daesh. "A steady stream of attacks in Baghdad and Damascus, [Syria], demonstrate the group's ability to penetrate deep inside enemy strongholds."

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Brennan said Internet propaganda has influenced people like Omar Mateen, who shot and killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, and left 53 more wounded. Brennan said the CIA has not found a direct link between Mateen and any foreign terrorist organization. Mateen pledged his allegiance to the IS shortly before he was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday.

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