Official: International community 'not structured' to deal with new ISIS threat

Story highlights

  • ISIS has called on its foreign fighters to attack countries that join coalition led by U.S.
  • Official: International community "not structured ... right now" to respond to such a threat
  • At U.N. this week, Obama hopes to "galvanize" international efforts against ISIS
  • Senior official calls danger posed by foreign fighters "extremely worrying"
Just hours after an ISIS spokesman called on the group's foreign fighters to carry out attacks on coalition countries led by the United States in the battle against the terrorist group, a senior Obama administration official warned the international community is not prepared to respond to such threats.
"We're not structured that way effectively right now" to respond to that kind of call, the official said.
President Obama hopes to "galvanize" international efforts to deal with the foreign fighter threat during his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.
"It sends a very powerful signal that this is an item of the highest urgency," said a senior administration official, who described the danger posed by foreign fighters as "extremely worrying."
The Obama administration is confident a new binding resolution aimed at preventing and tracking the travel of foreign fighters will be adopted at this week's U.N. Security Council meeting. The meeting will be chaired by Obama, marking only the second time he has presided over a Security Council session during his time in office.
Nations signing on to the agreement would be bound to new common law enforcement practices, officials said. However, there is no enforcement mechanism to guarantee that countries abide by the resolution.
"I think we are very confident that this will be adopted this week," said a senior administration official.
Part of the problem with the international response to traveling foreign fighters is the lack of coordinated counterterrorism measures among countries, senior administration officials said.
At the moment the U.S. intelligence community believes there are 15,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries who are fighting alongside ISIS and other similar terror groups. Some 2,000 of those fighters are believed to be European.
A senior administration official offered some nuanced detail about the 100 Americans who fit into the same foreign fighter category. That official said those 100 Americans are believed to be people who are either on the ground in the region fighting for ISIS or who have already returned to the U.S. and are now under surveillance by law enforcement.
The White House is planning an upcoming summit to confront the threat posed by foreign fighters inspired by ISIS, a senior administration official said Monday.
The Countering Violent Extremism Summit would take place at the White House, senior administration officials said at a background briefing with reporters. The event is another one of the key deliverables the Obama administration is expecting to nail down at this week's General Assembly.