- Jeh Johnson says ISIS is a "very significant potential threat" to the homeland
- Johnson is the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
- He says at least 100 Americans have tried to go fight with ISIS in Syria
- Officials have a "reasonably good sense" of who those Americans are
The militant group ISIS represents a "very significant potential threat to homeland security," and officials have a "good sense" of the individuals from the United States who are trying to travel to Syria and fight with the terrorist group, the secretary of Homeland Security said Monday on CNN.
"They are a dangerous organization that has acquired territory in Iraq and Syria from which they could launch attacks, train, command and control," Jeh Johnson said on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
"They've demonstrated a depravity and a willingness to kill Americans because they are Americans," he continued. "So we've got to take the fight to this organization."
His comments come as the group has released a new online video in which its leader specifically calls for lone wolf attacks in the United States and France -- two countries that have been conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.
The group has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker. Separately on Monday, the French government said one of its citizens was abducted in a mountainous region of Algeria. A video claim of responsibility was later released by the Islamist militant group, Jund al-Khilafa fi Ard al-Jazaair, or Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria, whose leader recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Johnson said Monday that ISIS "represents a very, very dangerous organization and a very significant potential threat to homeland security."
Asked which group is a bigger threat-- Al Qaeda or ISIS -- Johnson said the United States should carefully watch both.
"We've got to continue to keep our eye on all of this," he said. "We're in an environment now where these groups are competing for recruits, for fundraising and probably attention. So I'm focused on all of it."
At least 100 Americans have either left or attempted to leave to go to Syria and help ISIS, Johnson said.
"From various records and our capability to track the travel of these people through intelligence efforts, we have a reasonably good sense of who we're interested in, who the individuals of suspicion are," he added. "There have been some arrests made already. And we've got to stay focused on it."
Such "foreign fighters" are a new concept for counterterrorism efforts, he continued.
"It's not something, for example, that we faced in 2001 on 9/11. This is a new phenomenon," he said, adding that their social media capabilities are also a new tactic.