PREPARATION: ISIS was setting the conditions for uncontested rule of Raqqa since the summer of 2013, when it detonated VBIEDs against rebel headquarters, kidnapped rebel commanders, and detained civilian activists. In Mosul, ISIS undermined government institutions with large scale racketeering operations and carried out targeted assassinations against key civilian and military leaders. By the time ISIS took full military control of Raqqa in January 2014 and Mosul in June 2014, an organized opposition to ISIS did not exist.
The Islamic State poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world. Reports that it is not currently planning an attack against the American homeland are little comfort. Its location, the resources it controls, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality distinguish it from other al-Qaeda-like groups. Its ability to offer safe-haven and support to terrorists planning attacks against us is beyond any terrorist threat we have ever seen.