Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a chilling assessment of the threat posed by the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Thursday.
The threat the group poses is “beyond anything we’ve seen,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon when asked whether the group was as dangerous as al Qaida, according to NBC News.
“They marry an ideology with a sophistication of strategy and military prowess,” he said.
ISIS, which has captured large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria over recent months and now says it wants to be referred to simply as the Islamic State, released a video on Tuesday in which one of its fighters beheaded captured American journalist James Foley. The terror group is threatening to kill more American hostages.
Over the last several weeks, ISIS has issued a series of threats directed at America. On Monday, the group released a video vowing to “drown” America “in blood.”
Earlier this month, VICE Media posted a video report in which ISIS spokesman Abu Mosa pledged that the terror group “will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” (WATCH: Child ISIS Member Threatens America With Destruction)
After ISIS forces threatened the Iraqi city of Erbil in Kurdistan at the beginning of the month, President Obama authorized American airstrikes against the group to stop their advance on the city. In a statement from Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday in response to the beheading of journalist James Foley, Obama called ISIS a “cancer” that “has no place in the 21st century.”
Secretary of State John Kerry went further Wednesday, declaring on Twitter that ISIS “will be destroyed/will be crushed.” (RELATED: John Kerry Says ISIS ‘Will Be Crushed’ — But Does President Obama Agree?)