US airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, far from “degrading” the organization, are actually giving ISIS a huge shot in the arm, according to FBI Director James Comey, who testified today before Congress.
ISIS “growing online support intensified following the commencement of US airstrikes in Iraq,” Comey confirmed, saying the group was likely to try to pick up its efforts to take more US hostages going forward to get more publicity.
The US operation seems to be playing directly into ISIS’ hands in many ways, with President Obama’s high-profile speech last Wednesday, promising to escalate the war on ISIS into neighboring Syria, paying off for ISIS in recruitment as well.
According to rebel mouthpiece the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS secured at least 162 new recruits in Aleppo Province alone in the days following President Obama’s speech, a sign people are more interested in the group now that it is in a war against the US.
The FBI warned that Western fighters returning to Syria after fighting with ISIS remain a “top” security threat, though at the same time they have no real way of tracking what people do once they enter Syria, so there’s a lot of guesswork on who actually fought for ISIS.