CIA Director John Brennan said Britain’s vote to leave is the biggest challenge facing the European Union in recent years, prioritizing consequences of the referendum vote over the threat of terror posed by the Islamic State as refugees from the Middle East continue to stream into the continent.
“Of all the crises the EU has faced in recent years, the UK vote to leave may well be it’s greatest challenge,” Brennan said during opening remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday, citing the unprecedented uncertainty facing the union and increasing difficulty of decision making and consensus building.
“Brexit is pushing the EU into a period of introspection that will pervade virtually everything the EU does in the coming weeks months and even years ahead,” he said.
Moving on to address the Istanbul terror attack Tuesday, in which three suicide bombers killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds of others, Brennan said “our collective hearts … go out to the families of the latest victims of the horrific terrorist attacks perpetrated as well as incited by ISIL [the Islamic State].”
“The despicable attack at Istanbul’s international airport yesterday that killed dozens and injured many more certainly bears the hallmarks of ISIL’s depravity,” he continued.
The attack follows deadly ISIS assaults in Paris and Brussels, carried out in part with the help of lax border policies instituted by the European Union in response to the refugee crisis. The terror threat perceived by British citizens, in conjunction with an inability to properly control their own borders or stem the flow of refugees because of their membership in the EU appears to have played a major role in the vote to leave. (RELATED: Clapper: Syrian Migrants Could Be ISIS Ticket Into Europe)
Nevertheless Brennan placed the challenges of dealing with a British exit ahead of the challenge the entire continent faces in the fight against untold numbers of ISIS fighters exploiting the refugee crisis and immigration rules to prepare more attacks.
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