American intelligence officials have revealed that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is in the process of expanding beyond its base in Syria and Iraq to establish militant affiliates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt , and Libya -- thus indicating a new global war on terror appears to be imminent -- the NY Times website reports exclusively.
Intelligence officials estimate ISIS fighters number 20,000 to 31,500 in Syria and Iraq. However, ISIS -- with its ultimate goal of spreading Islam throughout the world -- has become the greatest worldwide threat to the independence of nations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 ended its ability to spread communism.
There are pledges of support from "probably at least a couple hundred extremists" in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen, according to an American counter-terrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss confidential information about the group.
Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart -- director of the Defense Intelligence Agency -- said in an assessment this month that the Islamic State was "beginning to assemble a growing international footprint."