ISIS: Is it really a threat to the U.S.?

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at the New America Foundation and the author of “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden – From 9/11 to Abbottabad.” David Sterman is a research associate at the New America Foundation.

Story highlights

U.S. officials now see ISIS as a credible threat, on a par with al Qaeda

Peter Bergen: Some lawmakers have exaggerated the current threat to U.S. from ISIS

He says the problem is a potential issue, but few have been charged so far

Bergen: Clearly ISIS is a potent force that must be countered in Middle East

CNN  — 

Maintaining that trust as U.S. combat troops withdraw will be key.

But what does that really mean in terms of ISIS’ potential threat to the United States? After all, al Qaeda hasn’t pulled off a successful attack in the States since 9/11, or indeed anywhere in the West since the London transportation bombings in 2005.

This month, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, criticized the airstrikes in Iraq ordered by President Barack Obama directed at ISIS as too limited, telling CNN’s Candy Crowley, “That is simply a very narrow and focused approach to a problem which is metastasizing as we speak. Candy, there was a guy a month ago that was in Syria, went back to the United States, came back and blew himself up. We’re tracking 100 Americans who are over there now fighting for ISIS. ISIS is attracting extreme elements from all over the world, much less the Arab world. And what have we done?”

Peter Bergen