President Obama admitted Sunday in an interview that the US intelligence “underestimated” the threat posed by the Islamic State and overestimated the Iraqi army’s capacity to defeat the militant group. “During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said.
President Obama said his director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has acknowledged that the U.S. “underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.” He also said it was “absolutely true” that the U.S. overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army.
Obama also stated trying to defeat ISIS in Syria was a double edged sword as it also helped Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the U.N. has accused of war crimes. “I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance,” Obama said. “We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad,” whose government has committed “terrible atrocities.”
Obama called the ISIS threat “immediate concern that has to be dealt with.” On the other hand, in terms of immediate threats to the United States, ISIL, Khorasan Group — those folks could kill Americans,” he said.
ISIS is the terror group responsible for the beheading of two American journalists and have taken over large portions of Iraq and Syria. The president has started a bombing campaign in hopes of beating back some of the control but has admitted there is no clear plan to eradicate them completely.