New terrorist threats
By Claude Salhani- Trend:
Islamist fighters have captured large swaths of land stretching across Syria and Iraq, and now control some of the Syrian and Iraqi oil fields.
If they manage to maintain control of those oil fields and to exploit them commercially, they will become not only extremely wealthy, but lucrative and increasingly dangerous. The final mixture would produce a blend of high octane terrorism, the sort of which would make previous terror groups tame by comparison.
While chances of this group- formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant now going by the name Islamic State- actually maintaining the oil facilities long term are slim, nevertheless, it has some powerful men in the world of law enforcement seriously worried.
With the billions of dollars they stole from banks in cities they conquered, they can now add billions of dollars more from the oil they are about to sell. If indeed they manage to retain the oil fields it will give them a continuous source of serious income that will make them the most potent - and the most dangerous - group of armed fighters anywhere on this planet.
Last month French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed that ISIL has been selling Syrian oil back to Syria. The sale was evidence of the "confusing" nature of the escalating conflict in the Middle East in which Syrian President Bashar Assad and the jihadists are in theory on opposing sides.
"We have proofs that when ISIL has taken over oil it has sold oil to the (Assad) regime," Fabius told a news conference last month.
The situation in Iraq is "very, very, very worrying," he added. "Because it is probably the first time that a terrorist group - and a ferocious terrorist group - is in a position, if there is no reaction, to take over the whole country, and a rich country, with enormous consequences for the region and the world," he said.
With the billions of dollars they now possess, the group can now afford to pay for whatever "manpower" they lack. They can also buy some serious weapons, or pay for the talent needed to produce such gadgets.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" while in London, United States Attorney General Eric Holder said he was very worried by what was happening in Syria. Holder said reports that terrorists are working to build undetectable explosives, was "something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern."
Groups like the ISIL realize that sooner or later they are bound to clash with the United States and Western powers and with that in mind are very likely preparing to attack or to counter attack the U.S.
"In some ways, it's more frightening than anything I think I've seen as attorney general," said Holder.
Holder's revelations coincides with a new report that came out last week that passengers taking international flights into the United States now must have their cell phones and other electronic devices pass additional inspection before being allowed to board planes.
The Transportation Security Administration said last Sunday it now requires some overseas airports to conduct additional inspections. Devices that fail to power up won't be allowed on planes and that their owners might have to undergo extra screening before boarding.
Homeland Security has asked the TSA to put extra security measures in place at some international airports.
Some security experts believe such devices could be planted in a laptop or other such electronic devices.
The beefed up security is almost certainly a response to recent intelligence reports suggesting that Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria are working with members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a commercial aircraft headed to the U.S. or Europe, as reported first by ABC News.
Americans and others from the West have traveled to Syria over the past year to join the Islamists fight against the Syrian government.
One fear is fighters with a U.S. or Western passport- and therefore subject to less stringent security screening- could carry such a bomb onto an American plane.
The effect of the war in Syria is starting to have serious consequences in the rest of the region with Iraq currently engaged in its own internal conflict has others worried too.
Ariel Cohen, a leading U.S. energy and geopolitics expert, and the principal of International Market Analysis, said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria started out with an "ambitious agenda," projecting their intension of conquering large swaths of the world. The group's aspirations are indeed ambitious, to say the least. "We may be for all intense and purposes looking at a multi-century conflict," said Cohen.
Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend Agency. You can follow him on Twitter @claudesalhani