The US Secretary of State has called for a global coalition to fight the threat posed by “Islamic State” militants. The plea follows a decision by Britain to increase the perceived threat of a jihadist attack in the UK.
Writing in the New York Times on Friday, John Kerry said Islamic State (IS) presented a “unifying threat to a broad array of countries,” and needed to be met with a “united response,” led by the US and “the broadest possible coalition of nations.”
The jihadist group has killed hundreds of people and captured significant chunks of territory in its advance across northern Iraq and Syria. IS last week released a video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley, which it said was in response to US airstrikes against the group in Iraq. It has since also threatened to kill other US hostages. On Thursday, IS also executed dozens of soldiers loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“What’s needed to confront its nihilistic vision and genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force,” Kerry wrote in the op-ed. “Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy.”
Kerry and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are expected to meet with their European counterparts at a NATO summit in Wales next week. Kerry said he would use the opportunity to try to enlist the “broadest possible assistance” on the sidelines of the meeting, before travelling to the Middle East to build support among the countries “that are most directly threatened.”
Although the US launched airstrikes earlier this month against IS targets in Iraq, US President Barack Obama admitted on Thursday that his administration did not have a strategy to combat IS in Syria.
‘Severe’ terror threat
The threat posed by IS prompted Britain on Friday to raise its terror alert level to “severe,” which signals an attack on UK soil is “highly likely.” However, authorities said they did not anticipate an imminent attack.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said at least 500 people had left the UK “to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq.” One of them is believed to be the man who beheaded Foley.
Cameron added that there was “no doubt” in his mind that jihadists from IS had set their sights on targets in Europe.
Several European countries, including the UK and Germany, are in the process of arranging weapons deliveries to bolster the supplies of Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting IS in Iraq.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week an estimated 400 people from Germany had gone to fight with IS in Iraq and Syria.
nm/tj (AFP, Reuters)