What makes the Islamic State especially dangerous is that it is present both on the ground—attempting to function as a state—and online, Rice said
“It is essentially a hybrid: a terrorist organisation and an insurgency, which exploited the chaos in Syria and Iraq to occupy large swaths of territory,” she said.
“Holding territory provides ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) with financial resources and manpower. It buttresses their false claim to a so-called caliphate, granting them a unique and powerful appeal to potential followers. At the same time, they have harnessed the power of social media to recruit fighters and inspire lone-wolf attacks,” Rice said.
The Islamic State, she said, poses an ‘enormous danger’ to civilians under their brutal reign.
“ISIL is the most dangerous terrorist organisation. It is a destabilising force in the Middle East. It is a threat to people around the world,” she said.
“But let’s be clear. As President Barack Obama has emphasised, ISIL does not pose an existential threat to our nation. We have faced down and defeated much greater adversaries. ISIL is not Nazi Germany. It is not the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. This is not World War III or the much-hyped clash of civilisations,” she said.
“On the contrary, we alienate our Muslim friends and allies—and dishonor the countless Muslim victims of ISIL’s brutality—when people recklessly and wrongly cast ISIL as somehow representative of one of the world’s largest religions. ISIL is a twisted network of murderers and maniacs, and they must be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed,” Rice said.
Broadly speaking, the strategy to destroy the IS is focused on four main dimensions, she said.
“We are relentlessly attacking ISIL’s core in Syria and Iraq; we’re targeting ISIL’s branches; we’re disrupting its global network; and we’re working around the clock to protect our homeland. It is a complex effort. It will not be accomplished fully in just a few weeks or months or even a few years. But day by day, mile by mile, strike by strike, we are making substantial progress,” Rice said.
Rice also said that Pakistani forces are working to push al-Qaeda out of the restive Waziristan region while the US are targeting fighters who cross over into Afghanistan amid the growing influence of the Islamic State terror group in the region.