Congressman Mike Pompeo who is Donald Trump’s pick to run the CIA, has listed out Russia, Syria, Iran and the Islamic State terror group as major threats to the United States. Describing Iran as “the leading state sponsor of terror”, he alleged that Tehran has become an emboldened, disruptive player in the Middle East, fuelling tension “with our Sunni allies”. On the Iranian nuclear deal, Pompeo said the US must be rigorously fair and objective in assessing the Joint comprehensive Plan of Action. “As the President-elect has made clear, one of my top priorities, if confirmed, is to assist in defeating ISIS,” Pompeo told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.
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“Radical Islamic terrorism is both a symptom and a catalyst of the terrible conflicts raging in the Middle East that have created both a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe,” he added.
Pompeo said it is a policy decision as to what to do with Russia, adding “It will be essential that the Agency provide policymakers with accurate intelligence and clear-eyed analysis of Russian activities”.
“Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS,” he said.
Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Pompeo said this is the most complicated threat environment the US has faced in recent time.
The Congressman described Syria “as a failed state” that has become one of the “worst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century”.
“This conflict has led to the rise of extremism, sectarianism, instability in the region and Europe, and the worst refugee crisis the world has faced in recent memory,” he said.
“ISIS remains a resilient movement, has metastasised, and shockingly has controlled major urban centres in the Middle East for well over two years,” he said.
“Whereas a few years ago, we focused on stemming the flow of foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq, today, the concern is making sure they, and those they inspire, are prevented from expanding their reach, returning home, or slaughtering more innocent people,” he added.
Attacking China for its activities in the South and East China Seas and in cyberspace, he said it is pushing new boundaries and creating tension.
He also targeted North Korea for dangerously accelerating its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, with little regard for international pressure.
Pompeo said while the NSA and Cyber Command play leading roles, cyber activities have become critical to virtually every intelligence operation, adding that the CIA must continue to operate at the forefront on this issue.