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 earlier this month 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 IS.
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 at least 37 people at a seaside resort. And a suicide bomber exploded himself at one of Kuwait’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 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 IS 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. The arrests were in response to a perceived risk that the IS would inspire more domestic attacks.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, 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.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said in a statement, “The past six months have seen a surge in attacks around the world and a dramatic increase in arrests here at home. 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-Qaida and the scourge of terrorism.”
Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist.