tv Global Terror Threats CSPAN March 1, 2015 1:13pm-3:10pm EST
i think there is a concern. and i know we're going to have a lot of testimony. i know there is concern. we're going to have a lot of testimony over the next several weeks regarding syria. there is a sense of a lack of commitment. you are not going to dispel that today. but i do hope as witnesses come forth, they will be open and transparent about the things underway. because today i think there is a sense that in essence we have a containment strategy, that we're in essence riding the clock out until this president leaves office. we have the same concerns right now in ukraine. where we lured them west. they gave up 1,240 nuclear weapons. obviously russia would not be moving into their territory today had they not done that. and yet together with them and with the u.k. we made comments about their territorial sovereignty.
and yet those are being invaded. and it does appear that the administration is not committed to doing those things that are necessary to cause ukraine to be able to at least defend itself. we were slow on intelligence. we are providing blankets. we are providing mre's. but we're not providing some of the defensive lethal support that is necessary. secretary kerry: well, we are providing -- senator corker: let me just finish. secretary kerry we're providing : counterbatteries and other things that are defensive. i understand the debate. senator corker: i just want to say where it takes on iran is, there is a strong sense of a lack of commitment. of a not willing to hold the line. so i hope that we as a committee are going to be able to move forward on legislation that allows us to see that, to cause you to force -- to cause us to force a process where you will
submit what it is you are doing with iran. i know you have been working on it very heavily. i know you must be proud of that effort. and in the event you come to a resolution with iran, i do think it is important that it is submitted. that we have the opportunity to approve it prior to sanctions being lifted and the regime actually dissipating. and i think the role of congress to make sure they continue to adhere to it is important. so those are comments i would leave you with. we thank you for your service. i do not know of anybody who has worked harder to try to deal with the many crises that we have around the world. we thank you for your service here as a former chairman, and we wish you well. secretary kerry: thank you, mr. chairman. good to be with you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: the homeland security department is funded until midnight. a continuing resolution passed
the senate last friday. there will be a conference to work out the differences between the two versions of the long-term spending bill, which provides funding for dhs through september 30. the house bill has provisions to block the president possibly executive orders on immigration. minority leader nancy pelosi has said that speaker john boehner promise to offer a bill to fund the department through the fiscal year. during a parents today on -- during an appearance today on "face the nation," he was asked about that. >> pelosi said that a bill to fund homeland security would be brought up in the house. did you make that promise? house speaker re boehner: we have asked for a conference with the senate. the senate majority leader in may of 2013 said, and i quote
we are not afraid to try to resolve our differences in a conference committee. this has been the custom of the senate and the house of representatives for almost 200 years. we want to go to conference with the senate. they have made clear they do not want to go to conference, that they are going to have a boat. this bill may be coming back to the house. reporter: what is easier to deal with, democrats or members of your own conference? speaker boehner: i believe that. announcer: they will work out differences over homeland security funding with a procedural vote set for 5:30 p.m. at 2:00, they will consider two bills related to the veterans affairs department, including one that provides long-term care to veterans, and another that would give the v.a. secretary the opportunity to recoup bonuses or performance awards from v.a. employees.
live coverage of the house here on c-span. you can watch the senate live on c-span 2. >> the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress. not only are there 43 new republicans and 53 new democrats in the house, -- and 15 new democrats in the house, there are 108 women in congress, including the first african-american woman republican in the house, and the first woman veteran in the senate. the congressional chronicle page has lots of useful information including voting results and statistics about each session of congress. new congress, best access. on c-span, c-span 2, c-span radio, and c-span.org. we have perceived more than 22 hundred entries from 400 schools across the country in this year's student cam video competition on the theme "the three branches and you."
wednesday morning during "washington journal," we will announce the grand prize winner and show their winning documentary. following the announcement, you can see all 150 winning documentaries at student cam.org. >> director of national intelligence james klapper appeared before the senate armed services committee thursday to provide his assessment of the global terror threats. he discussed the ukraine-russian conflict the war against isis, iran's nuclear capabilities, and current negotiations. he was joined by the director of the defense intelligence agency. this is two hours.
senator mccain: good morning, everybody. we have some nominations that when we get a sufficient number of frightened members who could not brave the snow today to come in -- and we also have a -- glad to see the senator from maine here, who is used to this kind of weather year round. anyway so, we will -- if we get a quorum, we will talk about the nominations. also, i would like to tell the members here that senator reid and i have agreed on a letter to the budget committee concerning our views as to what the budget committee should do on defense and hopefully we will circulate that letter and get as many signatures as possible. both senator reid and i have reached agreement on that letter, and i would like you to look at it, and as many as possible can sign it. the committee meets today to receive testimony on the nature
and scope of the global threats faced by the united states and its allies. i want to welcome james clapper and vincent stewart the newly confirmed the director of the intelligence agency, thank you for being with us. the committee recently conducted several hearings with our national security leaders to ask -- explore the need for strategic thinking to address the threats that we face. in the course of those hearings, these military and foreign-policy leaders all agreed that the current national environment is more dangerous. -- more complex and dangerous than at any time in recent memory. on the terrorism front isil continues to threaten in its effort to become the dominant islamic extremist group in the world. at the same time, the risk of attacks by foreign fighters returning from the battlefield or lone wolf threats, inspired by their successes, only increases the danger in the west, in yemen afghanistan
pakistan. the al qaeda groups continue to take advantage and take interest in attacks on the united states. simply put, we are engaged in a general fight for civilization against brutal enemies, and defeating these enemies requires significant intelligence resources, and focus given the diffuse and constantly evolving nature of the threat. but as we continue to fight against islamic extremists, we must not lose sight of the other strategic threats we face. as the world response to russia's invasion and dismemberment of eastern ukraine, russia's provocations are only more worrisome given putin's focus on building out and modernizing russian military forces and doctrine, and the geopolitical ambitions these new capabilities are designed to further. in asia, stability and security
of a vital and economically significant region is threatened by asia's buildup of its nuclear arsenal and element of long-range ballistic missiles. china's dramatic growth and modernization of its own military capabilities, which appear designed to restrict the u.s. military's ability to operate in the western pacific -- that chart over there is very interesting, and it shows the expansion by china in areas of the south china sea. and i hope our witnesses might comment on the fact that apparently, they are filling in enough of that area to perhaps employ weaponry such as anti-air and other capabilities. anyway iran continues to support more influence throughout the middle east, and
using proxies in libya, gaza and bahrain to undermine u.s. strategic influence. the iranian presence in iraq has become one of the key factors and limitations in u.s. policy planning in iraq and syria. we must remain focused on the potential threats of the future and maintain technological superiority against potential adversaries. today, this is of most concern in the cyber and space lanes where we see increasingly capable and aggressive activities by nationstate adversaries in areas with few established norms. i would appreciate our witnesses' thoughts on these efforts. we look to the intelligence community to provide timely and accurate information about the nature of the threats we face, the intentions of our adversaries and the likely , effect of certain actions we can take.
with flat defense budgets, the need for accurate intelligence about the plans and intentions of global actors become even more paramount. again i want to thank director clapper and general stewart for testifying today. i look forward to your assessments of the scope and the threats we face how the , intelligence community prioritizes and approaches these many threats, and which of these issues concern you the most. senator reid. senator reid: thank you. we face a complex range of security challenges from across the globe. our witnesses views and assessments of challenges are critical to the work of the committee. last week i traveled to pakistan, afghanistan, and iraq and had the opportunity to meet with the leaders in those countries but also with civilians and uniformed personnel who are so ably and courageously serving the united states. in iraq, our military command
stressed that despite the setbacks that extremists have suffered, isis remains capable militarily, and continues to consolidate its power in the region, including through the coercion of local populations. coalition air strikes have enabled local security forces including kurdish peshmerga and the iraqi government's newly established militias, many of them shia, to begin to gain ground from isis. concerns remain about when iraq security forces are ready to launch counteroffenses to maintain mosul. and about iran's growing influence in iraq. i look forward to witness views on the capabilities of the military and the new government. in afghanistan and pakistan, the taliban remains resilient despite coming under pressure from both sizes -- both sides. the challenge will be to keep counterterrorism pressure on the taliban even as we build the capability of pakistani forces,
to ensure afghanistan does not once again become a haven for al qaeda and other terrorists. we would be interested in our witnesses' views for the taliban threat in the 2015 fighting season, the possibility of pakistan reconciliation talks with the taliban and government of afghanistan, and the significant reports of growing presence in afghanistan and pakistan. on iran the diplomatic efforts to prevent acquisition of knew -- nuclear weapons is ongoing. march is the time we'll assess iran's intent. i hope the witnesses will provide us with an update on the intelligence community's thinking with regard to negotiations and iran's success in the region under two possible scenarios, deal or no deal. in syria, coalition air strikes have enabled kurdish fighters to regain control of kobani and expand outward but isis remains a formidable force.
if successful, the forces could over time promote the conditions for a political settlement. just last week, at a defense conference, the u.s. and turkey signed a key agreement to allow training of these forces in turkey once recruits are identified. i am interested in your views on the syrian training initiative and challenges we face. in europe, the post-cold-war international order is under threat from a force that seeks to threaten ukraine. conflicts and aggressive military activities. your assessments of the size of russian military buildup. we faced a different but no less competent attack the recent . the recent attack on sony by north korea was unpredictable. it demonstrates that even a week -- relatively small and weak
rogue nation can take advantage of our electronic networks and can reach across the oceans and cause extensive damage to the united states based economic power, targeted through cyberspace. further while cyber attacks are not as public, they are problematic and they continue to pose a security challenge to the united states. we will be interested to know whether we can expect more attacks of this nature and what we can do to make our nation more resilient in the future. finally, we have a threat close to home. that is sequestration. it is a threat that jeopardizes not only our national security but our safety, health transportation, education and environmental resources. as we receive testimony today we here in congress must be mindful of the necessity very -- the necessity to find a balance and bipartisan solutions and in sequestration. senator mccain: we welcome the
witnesses. director clapper: general mccain, and members of the committee, it is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here with general vince stewart. and we are here to update you on some, but not all pressing intelligence and security issues facing our nation. i need to note up front that there were some classified discussions we discussed in our closed hearing on tuesday that we will not be able to discuss as full some we -- fulsomely in this hearing. in the interest of time, i will only cover some of the topics. one, unpredictable and is the -- unpredictability is the new normal. the year 2014 saw the highest rate of political instability since 1992. the most deaths as a result of state-sponsored mass killings since the early 1990's. and the highest number of refugees and displaced persons
or idp's, since world war ii. roughly half of the world's stable countries are at a risk of instability in the next two years. the second overall comment is, this pervasive uncertainty makes it harder to predict the future. 2014 and 2015 saw a number of events that illustrate these difficulties. the north korean attack on sony, the most serious cyber attack against u.s. interests to date the ebola epidemic, and the small-scale and dramatic terrorist attacks in australia belgium, canada, denmark, france, and the u.s. again, this year i will start , with the cyber threats. attacks against us are increasing in frequency, scale sophistication and severity of impact. although we must be prepared for a catastrophic large-scale strike, a cyber armageddon the
reality is that we have been living with a constant barrage of cyberattacks for some time. this insidious trend, i believe will continue. , cyber poses a very complex set of threats, because private -- profit motivated criminals ideologically motivated hackers or extremists, and variously capable nationstates like russia, china, north korea and iran are potential adversaries who can do great harm. the message of the attack, the systems targeted, and the vic -- victims are expanding on a daily basis. 2014 saw, for the first time this directive cyberattacks carried out on u.s. entities, marked by the iranian attack a year ago, and the north korea attacked on sony in november. while both of these nations have lesser technical capabilities in comparison to russia and
china, these destructive attacks demonstrate that iran and north korea are motivated and unpredictable cyber actors. they continue to develop cyber programs, and i cannot go into detail here, but the russian cyber threat is it more severe than we had previously assessed. chinese economic espionage against u.s. companies remains a major threat, despite detailed private sector reports, scathing public indictments, and stern u.s. responses. with respect to non-nationstate entities those expressing support for isil have demonstrated capabilities by hacking several social media accounts. the so-called cyber caliphate successfully hacked twitter and a youtube page in january. two weeks ago, they hacked "newsweek" magazine's twitter handle. the most pervasive cyber threat
to the u.s. financial sector is from cyber criminals. criminals who are responsible for cyber intrusions into dozen -- in 2014 into jpmorgan, target, neiman marcus, and anthem. in the future, we will probably see cyber operations that change or manipulate electronic information to compromise its integrity instead of simply deleting the access to it. in the end, the cyber threat cannot be completely eliminated, but we must be vigilant in our efforts to detect, manage, and defend against it. moving on to terrorism in 2013, just over 11,500 terrorist attacks killed 22,000 people. data for the first few months of 2015, nearly 13,000 attacks that killed 31,00 people. when the final counting is done, 2014 will have been the most
lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled. about half of all attacks, as well as fatalities in 2014 occurred in iraq, afghanistan -- -- iraq, pakistan, and afghanistan. i am drawing this data -- isil conducted more attacks than any other terror group in the first months of 2014. credit where credit is due -- i am drawing this data from the university of maryland. the recent terrorist attacks in europe emphasize the threat posed by small number of extremists radicalized by the conflict in syria and iraq. the global attention and widespread support of extreme circles for these attacks are -- probably will inspire additional extremist to conduct similar attacks. in al qaeda and isil and al shabab are calling on lone wolves to perform attacks.
-- attacks against the united states and other western countries. of the 13 attacks in the u.s. since last may, 12 were conducted by individual extremists. since the conflict began, more than 20,000 sunni fighters have come from more than 90 countries to fight the assad regime. at least 13,000 of them died. -- of them have extremist ties. more than 3400 western fighters have gone to syria and iraq. hundreds have returned to europe. about 180 americans have been involved in travel to syria. i should point out this is those who attempted to go, did not get there, those who got there who were killed, those who fought and went to another country, and some number have come back. a very small number have returned, and we have not identified any of those still engaged in attack plotting. homegrown extremists continue to
pose a threat to the homeland. loan actors will likely gravitate to simple or plots that do not require training or communication with others. a small but persistent number of sunni terrorist groups remain intent on strikeing the u.s. and the west. some of them still see commercial aviation as an appealing target. in the middle east, isil is increasing influence outside of iraq and syria. seeking to expand its grasp into the arabian peninsula, north africa, and south asia and planning terrorist attacks against western shared interest. isil represents the greater 's rise represents the greater shift in the sunni violent extremist landscape since al qaeda affiliates began forming. and it is the first to assume at least some characteristics of a nationstate. spillover from the syrian conflict is raising the prospect of instability in lebanon
jordan and saudi arabia. , it is growing, and it will undermine progress against isil. although prime minister of body abbadi has begun to alter the sectarian town in iraq, persistent distrust will limit progress toward a stable political environment. iso -- isil's ability to conduct large-scale offenses in iraq and other allies, stiffen defenses against iraqi forces, sheet -- shia militants and tribal allies. not to mention the iranians. however isil remains a brutal and formidable threat. moving to syria, and parts of western syria, the syrian regime
has made gains in 2014, but it will require years to reassert significant control of the country as a whole. the regime has a clear advantage over the opposition, which is plagued by logistical -- by disunity, firepower manpower and logistical shortfalls. right now, they are incapable of militarily ousting assad, and will probably remain so in 2015. assad is confident and thinks the war is winnable. the conflict with over 200-2000 people estimated -- over 2000 people -- over 200-22,000 people estimated killed, will continue to threaten the stability of regional neighbors and foster the rise of regional sectarianism and extremism. as well, it will strain of -- the region cost's economic balance
as many flee. over 52% of the prewar population has been displaced. iran is exerting its influence in syria. it has provide a robust military support to damascus and baghdad in the form of arms, i divided funding, intelligence collections, and cyber support. more broadly, iran will phase many decision points in 2015 as it did in 2014. he wants sanctions released, by the same time, to preserve his options on nuclear capabilities. in libya, two rival governments emerged. the country has no clear legitimate political authority and is embroiled in a civil war. external support for both sides by countries in the region has further stoked the balance. -- violence. extremists and terrorists groups affiliated with al qaeda and isil art exploding libya's permissive security environment using the country to train and , plot. isil's beheadings of the coptic christians highlight the growing
threat of them is in libya. and, for now, the effectiveness has been reduced to terrorism efforts. after the president's attempted resignation and the houthi refusal of the government, the future is uncertain, especially with an escape to aden of presidential authorities. iran has provided support to the houthis four years. let me move briefly to russia. the crisis in ukraine is entering its second year. for kiev to pursue western integration will be difficult, to say the least. moscow sees itself in direct confrontation with the west over ukraine and will be very prone to overreact to u.s. actions. putin's goals are to keep ukraine out of nato. he wants moscow to retain leverage over kiev, and crimea,
in his view, is not negotiable. russian dominance over the former soviet space is russia's highest foreign-policy goal. falling oil prices, and western sanctions have tipped russia's economy toward recession. russia will continue to possess the most formidable ballistic nuclear weapon force. monitor his asian plans -- plans will focus on advantages to strike. china's leaders are primarily concerned with domestic issues. the communist party's hold on power, stability, and economic growth. although china is looking for stable ties with the united states, it is more likely to -- more willing to accept regional tensions in pursuit of its interest, especially maritime sovereignty issues.
as you noted, chairman mccain, china is expanding and accelerating the buildup of its outposts in the south china sea to include stationing for their ships and potential airfields. more broadly, to continue an aggressive military modernization program directly aimed at what they consider to be our strengths. their military training program last year included exercises unprecedented in scope, scale, and complexity to test modernization progress and improve theater warfare capabilities. president xi jinping is pursuing an ambitious reform agenda. it risks leadership tensions and domestic unrest. the slowdown of the chinese economy is reinforcing a harsh crackdown on internal dissent. needless to say, there are many more threats to u.s. interests worldwide that we can address. many of which are covered in
detail in our statement for the record, notably the classified version, such as afghanistan north korea, and weapons of mass destruction. but i think with that grim litany i will stop and will open , to your question. general stewart: mr. chairman, in the interest of time, we have a statement for the record. senator mccain: thank you. director clapper, on the issue of defensive weaponry to ukraine. do you think that if we give that assistance it will provoke putin to escalate his assistance to "the separatists" in their aggression against ukraine? director clapper: predicting
what putin will do or what his behavior will be is something of an unknown. i think the intelligence community's view is that if we were to provide lethal assistance, this would evoke a negative reaction from the russians. it could potentially further remove the fig leaf of their position that they have not been involved in ukraine, and could lead to accelerating or promoting more weaponry and higher sophistication into the separatist areas. to support the separatists. but i hasten to add that this is an intelligence community assessment and it is not necessarily to suggest opposition to provision of legal -- lethal aid. senator mccain: i am glad you added that because my next question is, what more do you think that putin could do?
go to kiev? certainly the weaponry he is using now is his most sophisticated weaponry. director clapper he could bring he could bring in a lot more if : you wanted to. senator mccain: bring in more: -- more? to do what? director clapper: for example armed helicopters. senator mccain: to achieve what goal? director clapper: it is not our assessment that he is spent on capturing all of ukraine. -- he is bent on capturing all of ukraine. he wants an entity composed of the 2 oblasts in eastern ukraine. which could include a land bridge to crimea, and perhaps a port in specifically mary a poll -- mariopol.
we do not believe an attack on mariopol is imminent. they are regrouping. senator mccain well, i have to : tell you that i disagree with you. they are already increasing activities around mariopol. i would predict he will put more pressure on them because he wants to establish the land bridge there. just as some of us predicted exactly what he is doing now. to say that we are worried about provoking him -- he is not going to go to kiev, he will establish a land bridge to crimea and then he is going to figure out whether to go to moldova or not. he is already putting intense pressure on the baltics. we all know that. we do not have to have intelligence reports to get that. this idea that somehow we will provoke vladimir putin -- he has done everything he wanted to do. you tell me what he did not want to do, that he wouldn't have
done if we had provided these people with the ability to defend themselves, instead of the slaughtered by the most modern equipment that the russians have. director clapper: i don't think that he will view it happily if the united states provides legal -- lethal support. senator mccain: because more russians might be killed who are now in crimea killing ukrainians. director clapper: that's right. it will be harder for him to hide that fact. senator mccain: everybody knows what he has done. general prelaw -- a general has laid it out very clearly. i am not in open dispute with you. we have to move on. but it is just incredible to believe that he would be provoked to further action when he has achieved every goal that he sought along the way. and we will see who is right about mariopol, director
clapper. director clapper: i am not arguing about mariopol. i think the issue is timing. i think that they will wait until the spring before they attack mariopol. senator mccain: i totally agree with you. he is not getting any increase in sanctions. the ukrainians aren't receiving defensive weapons. if i were him, i would do exactly that. he has plenty of time. yesterday, the secretary of state said that our world today is, despite isil and the visible killings you see, and how horrific they are, we are actually living in a period with less daily threat to americans and people in the world -- -- then normally, less violent deaths than through the last century. and yet, just today the director of the fbi and others said that
there are threats to 30 nations -- excuse me. 30 states in this nation. what is your view of the threat to the united states america? director clapper: this will be the fifth year in my 50 years of the intelligence business, that i have never seen as many challenges and crises around the world. i worry a lot about the safety and security of this country for a lot of reasons. not the least of which is the impact that sequestration is having on the intelligence community. we didn't get a pass. the same rules that apply to the department of defense apply to us as well. the combination of the challenges we have around the world and the declining resource base that we have to monitor them is of concern to me. director komi was referring to
the fact that he now has some form of investigation. and of course the fbi has a , tiered system based on the intensity of investigation. they now have some form of investigation on homegrown violent extremists, not necessarily direct sympathizers or supporters of isil, but in all 50 states. senator mccain: can i ask again because you made reference to it -- if we stick to sequestration as it is planned, it will impair our ability for you to do your job and defend this nation? is that a correct station -- statement? erector clapper: yes, sir. i have said that in the past. it is a little bit harder for intelligence to make that case as opposed to the navy or the air force, how many ships it builds or how many aircraft it is able to fly.
in our case, the impact our -- impacts are more insidious, in that predicting when lesser ability will create a failure is harder to quantify. just based on my best professional judgment, having served in this business a long time, i am very concerned. and if we revert to sequestration in 2016 the damage to the intelligence community will be quite profound. mccain: thank you, director. senator reed: general, thank you. both generals, thank you. the chairman has covered very well some of the issues in ukraine and crimea. is your assessment that putin is carrying out a strategic plan or is some of this opportunistic? he is just seizing the moment or , is it a combination of both? director clapper: i am sorry
sir? senator reed: is it a combination of both? is some of this opportunistic? director clapper i think it : became a strategic plan when yanukovych left almost a year ago. i think he saw an opportunity, particularly with the seizure of crimea. i think it has always been in his craw. given putin's approach and the way he looks at the way the -- at greater russia and what a disaster the breakup of the soviet union was -- as a step -- as i said in my statement, his highest foreign-policy objective is controlling the former soviet space. i think on the heels of the seizure of crimea and the establishment of some sort of arrangement in eastern ukraine and what i believe will be a
softer approach -- maybe not direct military action but, as the chairman alluded to, moldova and pressure in the baltics particularly where there are high levels of russian minorities. it is a different situation with the baltics as they are nato members, which moldova and ukraine are not. general stewart: we have conducted recently some very small military demonstrations in the baltics. 173rd airborne went in. i think the day or so ago, there was a parade of u.s. military vehicles. what is the russian reaction to those? director clapper: i think they watched that. it is symbolically important. there is messaging there. they are sensitive to that.
they are mindful of the fact that the baltic nations are nato members. they distinguish that. senator reed: we have elaborate sanctions in place. you indicated in your comments that they have not affected his strategy. they might be affecting the economy, but they have not affected his strategy. director clapper: that is exactly right. so far, they have not changed his approach. the greater impact on the economy has been the precipitous drop in oil prices. senator reed: do you have any indication that as this situation deteriorates further there will be an impact on his strategy? director clapper: there could be. what we see is, they are very sensitive to opposition demonstrations in the street. they are very sensitive about a
color revolution occurring in russia itself. that is another reason why putin reacted to the situation in ukraine, because he believed we instigated that as another color revolution. ukraine is right on his doorstep and that, in turn, posed an existential threat to russia. senator reed: changing gears, the iranians have an explicit presence in iraq today, and we have forces there. in the next few days or weeks there are two possible triggering events. one would be more aggressive action against assad regime in syria. another would be the resolution of the negotiations with the iranians on their nuclear program. do you have any views with
respect to what might happen in iraq, with respect to iranian forces which are now sort of -- not cooperating with us, but -- director clapper: is your question that is there a connection between the nuclear -- senator reed: would there be reaction in iraq to actions we are perceived to take in syria or the conclusion of the negotiations? director clapper: i don't think the negotiations will have much bearing on what they do in iraq or any place they are trying to exert their influence, meeting -- meaning syria or yemen. as best we can tell, the iranians have segmented the nuclear agreement from their regional aspirations.
senator mccain: senator in half? senator inhofe: i have three questions. director clapper, i know what your answer is after hearing your opening statement. but when you said that you haven't experienced a time when we were facing more crises around the globe, do you still stand by that? correct? director clapper: yes sir. if i am here next year, i will probably say that again. senator in hofe: you have always been straightforward. mr. stewart, you say that we face more diverse and complex problems then we have faced in our lifetimes. do you still stand by that? general stewart: yes sir. senator inhofe: there is a sense away from washington that we who are on the committee know a lot of answers we do not know. one of them, and it should be an easy answer -- i want to get
something from you guys that i can stand on. when we talk about the power in terms of the strength and number of bodies in isil or isis, september 14, we talked about it has been an additional 20,000 since this started. i think we all agree on that. they said it was somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters in iraq and syria. now, we know it has gone beyond that. in august, they talked about from 80,000 to 100,000. in november, one of the kurdish leaders claimed the isis military grew to 200,000 fighters. can you give us an idea? number one, why is it so difficult to do? and number two, something we can use" you as the sources -- use and quote you two as the sources? director clapper: for my view,
it is unfortunate that these they are very hard to come by. we have to derive them inferentially from a number of sources. when we do cannot out with numbers, you will have a wide range -- when we do come out with numbers, you will have a wide range. the current estimate is between 20 and 30,000. the difficulty is assessing who is a core fighter and does this full-time versus part-time. one effect of the airstrikes has been substantial attrition. they lost 3000 fighters in kobani.
what that is driving them to now, is that we are seeing evidence of conscription. the estimate we are seeing now is 20,000-32,000. senator inhofe: i was over in ukraine when they had their elections. they were related. they were from very different parties but both pro-western. they were rejoicing that for the first time in 96 years, the communists don't have one seat in parliament. after that, i thought that we didn't have any problem of going in with weapons. we have language in our last defense authorization bill that we have $75 million that we were encouraging the president to use for weapons going into to assist our best friend in that area.
i can't figure out why we don't do it. would you recommend it? director clapper: i think i have to answer two ways here. this is a policy issue. senator inhofe: i'm not talking about troops, but lethal weapon. director clapper: from indigent -- from an intelligence perspective, that is a policy issue. i have a personal view, and it is only that.
i would favorite, -- i would favor it, but that is a personal perspective. general stewart: i am trying to stay out of the personal. we stand by the assessment that lethal aid could be delivered quickly enough or change the military balance on the ground. it would not change the military balance of power and it couldn't get there quickly enough to make a difference. senator inhofe: as a military guy, do you buy this argument that we may be provoking retaliation from putin. i see what the president is doing every once in a while, and they say that we don't want to make the terrorists mad at us. what is your opinion about this statement on provoking a negative reaction to -- reaction from putin? general stewart: i think it is important enough to moscow that
they will up the ante if we take any action. the realities are, they see this as central to their foreign-policy. they see it as critical to keep ukraine out of nato and out of the western sphere of influence. senator mccain: i'm sure that hitler felt the same way that vladimir putin does. they say we can't get lethal weapons there quickly enough? that defies logic. we can put them on aircraft and fly them over there. how do you justify a statement like that?
general stewart: the statement was we couldn't deliver the aid quickly enough to change the military balance of power on the ground. senator mccain: quickly enough? what does that mean? general stewart: russia and the separatists have lines that they can resupplied much faster than we can deliver, so it would be a race to see who can arm. and with their lines, they would have a significant advantage on the ground. senator mccain: i'm sure they had a significant advantage when they invaded afghanistan. very disappointing, general. senator sheehan: i want to go
back to the middle east and to what is happening in syria. to what extent has excised -- has aside continued control over syria -- has assad continued to have control over the country. what is the thinking about how to change the dynamic? director clapper: he maintains the control because of his control over the economic levers to the extent that they have them. his focus is on the area from aleppo to damascus. that is where most of the population is and the major commercial entities.
he is surrounded by people that are committed to preserving that because they benefit from it. they are the minority. the aloe lights are only -- the alawites are only 10%. the reality is, thata assad is fighting isil as we are. it is a complex array of factors. senator sheehan: to what extent has that affected other arab countries in the middle east and their willingness to engage? director clapper: it has been somewhat of a change. it is gradual, but the fact that
many of these countries are participating in the coalition. i do think the brutal savagery of isil with the beheadings and the immolation of the pilot have had a galvanizing effect on opinion in the middle east region. i think there is more of a willingness to cooperate. certainly from the standpoint of intelligence sharing. senator sheehan: are you optimistic that turkey will become more engaged? director clapper: no. i think turkey has other priorities and interests. they are more focused on what they consider to be a threat with the kurdish resistance in turkey.
public opinion polls show in turkey that they don't see isil as a primary threat. the consequence of that is a permissive environment because of their laws and the ability of people to travel through turkey en route to syria. somewhere around 60% of those fighters get syria through turkey. senator sheehan: to a rack --to iraq. what is a rants presence in iraq -- is irans presence in iraq? director clapper: the iranians are there and helping with the fight against isil. there is still great reluctance to fully include the sunnis, which must happen.
director clapper: the fundamental interest of the iranians is to preserve a shia or shia-friendly government in baghdad. isil poses a threat to the iranians as well, so they have an interest there in sustaining their aggressive combat and assistance. and opposing isil. >> thank you gentlemen for appearing before us today. i would like to go into discussion with iran a little bit more.
the iranian military is arguably one of the most deployed forces in the middle east. they have been into areas such as syria, iraq, lebanon bahrain, yemen. iran is effectively increasing its sphere of influence in the region and it is also defending its allies in ways which afford iran the ability to alter battlefield momentum. we have seen a progression of expert witnesses in front of this very panel, and many of my colleagues and these witnesses have stated that they do believe that the president is failing in this area of setting a national strategy. his failure to construct a comprehensive strategy against iran has led to iran's expanded influence in the middle east.
i would like to hear your assessment, director clapper, on the tools that iran has and whether we are effectively engaging them, what we need to do to gain a national security strategy. director clapper: i can comment on the intelligence aspects of this. national security strategy is not my department. the way that iran is exerting its influence in the region is through their organization called the iranian republican guard corps quds force. it is a commendation of intelligence and special ops. -- a combination of intelligence and special ops. they use that to expand their influence.
another one of their proxies is hezbollah, which they have been a long client hypes up -- client-subordinate relationship with. certainly from an intelligence perspective, we try hard to keep tabs on those entities. senator ernst: is there a way that we can more effectively engage our neighbors in the middle east to push back on iran's influence? director clapper: from an intelligence perspective, we do engage with our intelligence counterparts in all these countries -- those that are
willing to engage with us. particularly the sony -- particularly the sunni countries, which do harbor reservations about iranian objectives. >> thank you both for being here. in regards to iraq, what do you think are the biggest challenges that the iraqi forces face right now in pushing isis back from ozone -- from mosul and tikrit. director clapper: obviously, the iraqis security forces particularly the army, need to
reconstitute after losses in northern iraq last june where about 4.5 divisions of iraqi forces just melted away. that includes training and hopefully building the will to fight. they have some challenges with command and control as well as leadership and logistics. they have a whole range of issues that need to be attended to before they are in a position to unilaterally retake places like moz oh -- like mosul. general stuart: last fall, they had -- they are holding three additional divisions -- they are building three additional divisions from the ground up.
>> when are they ready? general stwewart: we are talking probably 6-9 months. senator donnelly: when we see are the credit -- when we see the threats that occur at home if you were to put it in perspective, now versus this time last year, do we have significantly increased threats now as opposed to last year? director clapper: probably about the same. senator donnelly: in regards to isis, our push is to get them out of a rack -- out of iraq. when they are gone, does that threat level come down at home?
director clapper: i think it would at least reduce the threat some, but if the caliphate is extended to other locations, which is what isil is trying to do, then we will have that to contend with. there will be some reduction in the threat because if isil were defeated in iraq and syria, at least you have done away with a substantial safe haven. senator donnelly: when you look to libya, is that one of the key places they look at now as a place where they can try to grow?
director clapper: that is probably the most troublesome just because of the conditions there. two competing governments fighting with each other. in addition to isil, there are probably six or eight other terrorist groups that have gathered in libya. it is a magnet. senator donnelly: when you look at a place that is ungoverned right on the mediterranean, what do you see as the best steps that you can take in that region to try to change the course of what is going on? director clapper: from an intelligence perspective, we need to step up our game.
i think there is a lot of merit to partnering with the french, who have sort of stake out their claim in the sahel region of north africa. they have history and heritage there as well as access and have committed to deploying troops in that area which we can supplement. those are things, from an intelligence perspective, that may allow us to get a better handle on what is going on in that part of the world. senator donnelly: how are we doing on interagency cooperation here at home? better than ever before? director clapper: that is the reason my job was created after 9/11. to promote integration here in this country. i would like to think that it is
better. i was around before 9/11, so it is better, but there is always improvement. we are not as mature on the domestic side, but i think we have made a lot of progress there. senator donnelly: thank you. >> director clapper, what do you assess as a side -- assess as as ssad's -- assad's likely response, and do you assess that assad will attack them? director clapper: as long as a side -- as long as assad felt that this was something to be
used only against isil, he would probably be ok with it. but he would probably have a hard time determining whether it was a threat to isil or just him -- or to him. he could easily consider that force as a threat. >> do you believe you are receiving good intelligence? director clapper: we have a lot of intelligence gaps in syria principally because we are not there.
we are working at it to come up with more intelligence from syria, but that is a tough problem. senator fischer: have you received any intelligence that the moderates trained by us would be fighting isil and not assad. director clapper: i guess the short answer would be yes. senator fischer: how would you assess that russia and iran would be looking at these trained forces? director clapper: they probably wouldn't like it. i think, at this point, russia looks at syria as a client and an ally. someone that they provide
support to. it would be almost the same perception problem with the russians as it would be with assad. they could probably rationalize it was focused on isil, but if it was perceived as a threat to the regime, i think they would react negatively. senator fischer: if they would perceive it as a threat, what kind of force would they employ? senator -- director clapper: i don't think that they would necessarily deploying combat forces to syria. they would probably step up military equipment support which they have been doing. that is if they perceive that what we are doing is a direct threat to assad. senator fischer: i would like to ask you something about cyber security. the senator is -- the senate is
looking at a bill to authorize greater information sharing. there are concerns out there about some of the entities we would be sharing that information with. how do we balance the risks between valuable information sharing and the need not to provide information either to private individuals, hackers that are out there, or to a foreign government that may be able to pick up information that we give our colleagues. director clapper: that is exactly the issue. that is the general dilemma that we have across the board whether cyber or any other dimension. sharing versus security. there is no silver bullet answer.
i do think that there needs to be some form of legislation that will protect, from a liability standpoint, commercial concerns so that they can be more freely in a position to share with the government. this is not something that the government can do by itself given the pervasiveness of cyber in our society. we must partner with our civilian sector which means promoting sharing both ways. but you are right, there is always this trade-off between security and sharing. senator fischer: thank you, sir. senator king: i think it is very important that we put through legislation on that.
i understand that the bill put through last summer has been reworked and it will be moving forward reasonably soon. i hope that is one of the congress's highest priorities. turning to isis, what are the chances that it will wear out its welcome within the areas that is now trying to govern because of the weight of its brutal and harsh ideology? do we have any intelligence about what is going on inside mosul in terms of the citizens and how they feel about this new regime? director clapper: i think that is an important point, and we are seeing anecdotal evidence of resentment and even resistance in areas controlled by isil
because of their brutal approach to enforcing sharia. i think the challenge, and we are artie seeing indications of this -- and we are already seeing indications of this, that isil has, is that they don't have the financial wherewithal to provide municipal services. >> you mean they are running a deficit? director clapper: we are seeing signs of electricity outages shortages of food and commodities. the airstrikes against their refining capabilities has forced them to go to a lot of individual, mom and pop stills.
they are having problems getting the revenue to run the areas they have captured. we are getting anecdotal evidence of the strains is putting particularly on the city of mosul. senator kaine: -- senator king: could you articulate that for us? general stewart: we talked about the ratio of forces needed to take an urban environment, about 10-1 offense versus defense.
there is something to be said about isil wearing out its welcome. it is precisely what turned al qaeda in iraq before that convinced the tribes that there may be a better option. >> and isis is much more brutal and difficult than al qaeda as i understand. general stewart: the question is, where is the tipping point? i think there will be a tipping point at some time, we just don't know when. >> you just testified, a 10 to one ratio means you need a well-trained force. the question is whether will be necessary or whether it can fall on its own weight. senator king: a quick question on cyber. it concerns me that all of our questions on cyber are mostly defensive.
we are talking about rebutting these kinds of intrusions. should we think about developing an offense of capability to provide a deterrent. it concerns me that now, particularly a state actor, can act without fear of consequences. whereas the theory of deterrence in our nuclear field stood the test of time for 75 years. should we think about a deterrent capacity so that people know if they attack us in any critical way, they will suffer in return? director clapper: yes, i agree. we do have offense of capabilities that i can't go into here. i think the issue is, what is the policy, what is it that would achieve cyber deterrence?
that is an issue that, at the policy level, we are still wrestling with. senator king: to go back to dr. strangelove, if you have a deterrent and don't tell people about it, it is not a deterrent. >> i want to thank both of you for what you do to protect the country. i wanted to ask about iran. in your written testimony, you have said that iran was on track , by this year, in terms of its icbm program.
has i run continued to -- has iran continue to develop its icbm program? and what is the status? director clapper: the iranians have continued on their space launch vehicle program. they recently put into orbit a satellite. any work they do on missiles could conceivably go towards work on icbm. it will be hard to determine whether a given missile is launched for the purposes of a space launch vehicle, because it they do that they also acquire proficiency, expertise, and experience in what could be an icbm. so it is a hard question to answer because it has a lot to do with intent. but there is no question that
they have the technical competence. i think the huge, medium-range ballistic missile force that is operational today poses a threat to the region now. senator ayotte: and if they were to get icbm capability, that obviously poses a threat in terms of our country. director clapper: it could, it depends on what they actually do if they are actually able. it is possible they attempt to launch one this year. the challenge is determining intent. senator ayotte: can you help me determine what other types of activities they are engaging in to establish regional hegemony?
director clapper: they are certainly trying to reach out diplomatically. the organization that we watch a lot is the irgc quds force. they will look to establish their influence by whatever mechanism they can. senator ayotte: as i understand it, they continue to support assad. they have continued to support groups including has below -- including hezbollah. would you still consider them one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism? director clapper: they are still classified that way. senator ayotte: i would like to follow up on an issue with
international implications, and that is of international drug trafficking. in my home state of new hampshire, we have had a devastating amount of people dying from heroin overdoses. i would like to hear your opinion, general stewart, about what is happening in terms of drug trafficking, and in particular heroine, and how the networks are using -- are being used to fuel terrorism. what do southern and northern command need in terms of fighting drug trafficking? general stewart: i-8 will have to look at the numbers again, --
i will have to look at the numbers again, but i don't think drug trafficking is increasing through our southern borders. pakistan and afghanistan continue at about the norm of the last few years. we see no indications that drug trafficking routes are being used for terrorist activities. i spoke recently to the folks at southern command, and i don't recall any request for additional capability. director clapper: i think it was last year when the commander of south command testified that one of the challenges with drug trafficking is not so much a lack of intelligence. we have a lot of intelligence on it. it is the lack of resources
particularly the ability to interdict by the coast guard and others. that is being addressed. they are putting more to abilities into the coast guard in the southern hemisphere. i think i would take mild disagreement here with general stewart that it is a problem not only across the border, but puerto rico is another vulnerability that we have. we have pretty good intelligence on this. the challenge has been -- again, sequestration has had impacts.
senator ayotte: i noticed in your testimony that you noticed the incredible surge of heroine related deaths 2007 deaths since 2007. senator kaine: my perception of the level of american and allied intelligence about the extent of the iranian nuclear program is that before november 2013, the level of intelligence was good. there were gaps in challenges, -- gaps and challenges, but there were actions that slowed the program.
our intel sources haven't got away, -- haven't gone away, but the inspections would give us an even better level of intel which would help us determine if we needed to take military action and enable us to better target any military action. director clapper: the important aspect of any sort of agreement we might reach with the iranians would be a very invasive and thorough surveillance and inspection capability on the part of iaea. i think that will be requisite to any kind of agreement.
we have, i think, a reasonably capable intelligence capability but i wouldn't want to rely on it only for verification. senator kaine: i agree with the last point you made. i would look at any final deal in analyzing its content and determining whether i supported it. the degree of inspections is how we guarantee to know if there is a problem. you indicated that your intel suggests iran is looking at the
negotiation as separate from the whole question of iranian bellicosity. my sense is there is at least one connection between the two. this bears on my analysis of any deal. he needed if reached would involve sanctions relief to iran. --from what i have heard, some of the sanctions relief may have allowed them to invest more heavily in agents that are destabilizing governments outside of their own borders. as we look at any deal, if there is such a deal, there could be a connection between the deal and iranian bill cassidy. -- bellicosity. >> the sanctions have had financial impacts on the iranians. that in turn has impacted funding for their military and t he quds force.
we have had meetings. king abdulla said grown troops would not be a good idea in his view. yesterday, we spoke to the emir of qatar. he said american troops are a bad idea because it would convert the perception to the west against isil rather than a battle to clean up extremists. the want america pass help. the -- america's help. they said grown troops would be problematic because this would be positioned as an american occupation.
and that america is the point of the spear against that terrorist threat. i would be curious about your reactions to those comments. >> i have had similar discussions with the king. he is a proponent, and articulate one, for the people in the region taking it on and having to lead. anytime we show up someplace, we are by definition occupiers. he recognizes as do others, there will be the need for boots on the ground. hopefully others and not the u.s. that in genders own challenges and issues. >> thank you. >> thank you senator reid. just a follow-up on senator kaine's comment, we need to reestablish where we are.
director clapper, is it still our policy that no options are off the table and iran should not have a nuclear weapon? >> that is my understanding, yes sir. >> that is your understanding. do you have any doubt about it? >> take with the administration has said at its word that no options are off the table. >> we had a hearing yesterday on nuclear forces instituted forces. one of the things i came away with was greater concerns than i had before about the proliferation impact. stability in the region. that could occur from a nuclear armed iran. i think we have to be careful about that.
the cia reported iran was not intend on building a nuclear weapon. that was wrong? >> up until 2003, they were. right now, we believe the supreme leader would be the ultimate decision-maker here. as far as we know, he has not made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon. i do think we want to preserve options. across the capabilities it would take. right now, they do not have one. they have not made that decision. i agree it would be profoundly destabilizing if they were to achieve a nuclear weapon. >> it makes us face tough choices.
they never relinquished the intention to build a weapon. the cia report was an error. it seems they get closer every month that goes by. general store it, i had the honor to be briefed by you -- stewart, i had the honor to be briefed by you in iraq. you gave a remarkable briefing. how the marines worked with the tribal leaders. after great commitment by the marines and other forces. i am not for any major massive american troop leadership in iraq.
i do think, and i want you to give us your best judgment. even a few embedded forces with the iraqis, with the ability to communicate to aircraft, bringing in smart bombs, assisting them, that doesn't encourage them? the iranian forces fight better under those circumstances than if they do not have the confidence that even a small american presence brings? >> senator, let me answer the question this way. senator cornyn -- senator kaine raised a great point. the best propaganda victory we could give i still --isil is a fight between the west and islam.
eating the right but with the forces that are advancing? >> there is a great sense of comfort when u.s. forces are with our partners to provide precision, command-and-control to help bolster leadership. >> with regard to the momentum we have there, a large iraqi army -- is my time up? my time is up, mr. chairman. thank you. can't some of those divisions, some of those usenits, be utilized to blunt the momentum isis has achieved and give confidence in the iraqi forces that they can retake the territory? sooner is better than later? >> they have blunted the iso advance.
the best we can guess, isis has lost territory over the last couple of months. it is not just iraqi security forces. the kurdish forces involved. they are making a difference. i would not categories it as significant, but they are causing isil to lose territory. >> we have been training them for a decade. doing it another six-nine months of training? i thought we were training the iraqi army for nearly a decade. >> when we talk about 6-9 months, it is to deal with urban fighting, which is different and complex and requires skill and precision. >> thank you. your leadership and commitment. >> it also has to deal with the collapse of the iraqi army. >> thank you. just a couple of questions i have. following up on the iran nuclear capabilities that they may have, as we know they have not dismantled, they might have downgraded some of their enriched uranium, or we just prolonging the inevitable?
we are going to get to enrichment and armament speed soon. unless there is an absolute dismantlement. >> that is the concern. that is why the importance of intrusive and comprehensive surveillance and inspection is so critical. to make sure they do not. enrich highly enriched uranium. >> they are not downgrading some of the things they can or taking away the capabilities. >> that is to be determined. i don't want to talk too much about it. there is a delicate state of play within the negotiations themselves. that is all in play as part of the negotiations. >> if i can switch gears to china. our partners in the asia-pacific area, especially taiwan.
they are growing uneasy about china's strategy which seeks to limit american power. can you update us on china's efforts? >> i can go into a great deal of detail, but the chinese are embarked on an impressive military modernization program across the board. their program is deliberately designed to counteract or thwart what they feel are our strengths. carrier aviation. bases. our abilities in space. they are doing specific things in each one of those realms to
deny us first potentially surveillance, command and control, as well as what they you are primary weapons. -- view as our primary strengths. i can go into more detail if you like in a classified setting. >> you have spoke about their developing capabilities. i understand they are accelerating very fast. you said they are impressive. >> they are and they are getting more into the realm of indigenously designing and producing things rather than write a line -- relying on others like the russians.
>> one more for you. we talked about in a closed setting, you might be able to talk about it. as far as isis, there financial ability to attract the dollars they do. are we having any success in trading done that money flow? >> again, i'm speaking in generalities. they acquire a lot of funding initially. some arrived from overrunning iraqi banks. that is going to dry up. the airstrikes against the oil has made -- as a consequence of the brutality, the donations they have received are tapering off. this is something about an attrition approach which over time -- the other thing draining resources is the demands they have for governments. particularly in cities like most all. -- mosul.
>> when we first heard about isis, where they paying their soldiers were tracking because of better pay? >> there was mushrooming growth. when they did their attacks in northern iraq, that was because largely it is a sunni region. they were very receptive to joining up with isil which many reviewed as a better protector of themselves and their communities and families than the iraqi government. we are now seeing antidotal evidence that they are also
having to reduce the amount of money they are paying some of their fighters. >> that could reduce some of their strength. >> that and what we are also seeing again. anecdotal evidence that they have been driven to subscription. forcing people to join their ranks. to sustain their fighter force. you can early have taken heavy losses. -- particularly as they have taken heavy losses. >> thank you for your wonderful service to our country. general stewart, the chairman has a soft spot for marines. >> i am delighted about that senator. >> i will make sure he keeps treating you with kid gloves.
i want to thank you gentlemen for what you are doing. i think your service provides a real, accurate threat assessments not only to congress but the american people. it is fundamentally critical if we are going to get a hold of the challenges we face now as a country. this committee has had several hearings about these assessments with luminaries. democrats, republicans. former secretaries of state. former four-star generals and written about what they see as the challenges and strategies we need. there is consensus we are living in a challenging environment. henry kissinger said it was one of the most challenging he has seen in his career, which says a lot. what i want to touch on is a disconnect between some of the testimony from just one -- gentlemen like yourselves and
senior administration officials. let me give you a few examples. the president talked about the crisis of 9/11. when through a list of things that made it sound like we are living in a benign world environment. the secretary of state talked and yesterday i will talk to you actually living -- normally. one is want with it less climate change as the national security that relative to the you will
view you with from senior leadership living in england when daily threatening, nuclear weapons, climate change, i think it is critical we level with the american people on water actually the threats. >> our function will in the be -- will you and -- >> i think our function in the intelligence community is to portray as accurately as we can what we see as the threats. we probably always occupy the half of the class that is empty. policymakers and often times military commanders will occupy the half of the glass that is full. the real truth is at the waterline. our instinct is to perhaps -- i have been criticized for this -- worst-case the situation.
having been on the receiving end of virtually every critique investigating intelligence failures since 9/11, we are much more conservative and cautious than others might be about the nature of the world out there. but i think we have a certain institutional responsibility which we try to discharge. if others do not see it that way, that is their prerogative. about the nature of the world out there. but i think we have a>> do agree with those assessments? >> we don't do policy. i'm not critiquing those who make it. >> i don't think that is policy. they are giving threat assessments. >> climate change, for example. it does have national security implications. if you watch what is going on in the arctic, the impacts on climate change in terms of water availability and this kinds of thing, it does have national security implications. i probably would not rank it as threat number one, but it is a serious concern. >> let me ask a general stuart.
we were talking about the increasing recruitment of i so. sil. what this do you see them as a team that is winning or gaining ground. if a recruit thinks he is going to get killed, he was probably not interested. but if they seem to be perceived as gaining ground. north africa, syria, iraq. a recruitdo you think that helps in their recruitment efforts? >> a capable propaganda media operation that emphasizes their success. their victories, however small. that is a basis for attracting those who would moved to that ideology. their success on the battlefield or perceived success, the way they are presented, certainly helps them gain recruits for the fight. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you both for being here today. the execution of coptic christians in libya by terrorists affiliated with isil raises questions about their ability to coordinate with other groups. what is your assessment of this?
>> if you are referring to isil 's other chapters or provinces, so-called. if that is what you are referring to? what is the connection there? >> what is your assessment of their abutting to coordinate and communicate. engage in terrorist acts outside of syria and iraq. >> do you mean the homeland or elsewhere in the world? >> both would be good. >> what they are trying to do is create the substance and maybe more importantly bethe image of a global caliphate by establishing chapters, franchises if you will, in places like libya, egypt, yemen, and so they sure. the extent -- and south asia. the extent to which this is a monolithic organization where isil and its leader is calling the shots, i don't see a lot of evidence of this. i think this is more about pledging allegiance to the brutality and savagery of isil. first and foremost issues for the local chapters is local.
aspirational he, there is a threat that they pose potentially to the homeland. those that they might harbor particularly in iraq and syria who would do us harm. >> i agree with that assessment. we just had a recent case out of brooklyn where we had threats being made. you mentioned yemen. >> if i might comment on that, this is what i was referring to in my statement about -- this is a real challenge for all of us whether homeland security or intelligence. the appeal, the rhetorical or
spiritual appeal. because of the effective media capabilities that isil has demonstrated and how they are able to appeal to people who can act on their own at a time and place and circumstance of their choosing. that is a very where some challenge. -- worry some challenge. it is not so much in them command and controlling plots as much as inspiring them. >> you have recommendations for us about how to stem that tied? -- tide? do you believe our allies are doing their share? i am concerned about the flow of foreign fighters from the u.s. europe, into yemen out of syria.
what should turkey be doing to help us more? >> as we discussed before, turkey has its own focus which does not necessarily comport with ours in terms of isil or al qaeda. they have permissive laws. it would be good if they would change them. more stringent controls over who transits through their country. i would volunteer that because of the effectiveness of the media campaign or propaganda campaign, we the u.s. and west, we who oppose is need to be more aggressiveil in mounting the counter narrative. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> we conclude -- that i take a look at that chart over there? in general, i know you have seen it. as to the expansion of the chinese. the south china sea. that is a rather dramatic change. obviously, they would be filling that in to place installations there. could you talk a little bit about that before we conclude? >> the chinese had extorted and -- exorbitant claims through the south china sea. they have been aggressive about pursuing that. this runs afoul of counterclaims that many of the other countries also have in the