A beach in Tunisia became a crime scene.

Photographer: FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

After 3 Attacks, Intelligence Community Braces for More

Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI.
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After three terrorist attacks Friday in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, the U.S. intelligence community is bracing for more in the coming weeks.

Two U.S. intelligence officials told me that analysts are trying to piece together information on the three attacks to see whether they were inspired by the Islamic State's message last week urging mass murder during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The audio message posted online from Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State, urged followers to kill infidels and Shiite Muslims, the minority sect within Islam considered apostasy by the Sunni fundamentalists at the helm of the Islamic State.

The attacks on Friday were gruesome. In Lyon, France, at least one attacker beheaded an individual at a U.S.-owned factory. In Tunisia, gunmen killed 27 people on a beach. And in Kuwait a suicide bomber exploded himself at one of the country's largest Shiite Muslim mosques.

One U.S. intelligence official told me that the attacks coming so close together in different places suggested a possible connection, all the more ominous considering the call to arms last week from Adnani. This official also said June 29's one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Islamic State's caliphate could be a date that followers of the Islamic State would use as a pretext for new terrorist attacks.

The threat of more terrorism overseas also comes at a time when the FBI is rounding up potential "lone wolves" at home. As Josh Rogin and I wrote on Thursday, the arrests were in response to a perceived risk that the Islamic State would inspire more domestic attacks.

Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement that the three attacks "demonstrate the constant threat from terrorists worldwide" and "serve as a reminder that we must continue to take the fight to terrorist groups."

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was waiting for more information on whether the attacks today were linked or coordinated.

But regardless, he said in a statement, the fight against Islamic terrorism is far from over. "The past six months have seen a surge in attacks around the world and a dramatic increase in arrests here at home," he said. "Plainly, the United States and the rest of the world have a lot more work to do and many dark days ahead in the struggle against ISIS, Al Qaeda and the scourge of terrorism."

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To contact the author on this story:
Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.net