It's just a matter of time when the chaos and pain of Sept. 11, 2001 starts all over again. At least that's what a former director of the CIA said on the seemingly pruning and sprucing tirades between the U.S. government and the radical terror group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On Tuesday, U.S. officials had confirmed that it had begun conducting surveillance flights over Syria, a prelude to a potential blast of airstrikes against the Islamic State militant targets there.
Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, said the ISIS isn't just a run-of-the-mill terror organisation. It has money and most importantly, it has members that are European and American passport holders.
Those two facts prompted Hayden to think and say that the ISIS "has global ambitions" to create and instill terror in just about any place they want in the world.
Moreover, he said the ISIS is very much itching itself to prove its existence and credentials against an "al-Qaeda prime," a group located along the Afghan- Pakistan border. A successful attack against the West will earn them that respect and seal their place in the jihadist community.
As to when it will decisively attack, nobody knows for certain.
"So if it is not Tuesday, it's at a time and place of their choosing. And it will come probably sooner rather than later," Hayden said.
The U.S. wants more clarity on the militants in Syria, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday told reporters in Kabul, Afghanistan. "Clearly the picture we have of ISIS on the Iraqi side is a more refined picture," he said.
"The existence and activities of ISIS on the Syrian side, we have ... some insights into that but we certainly want to have more insights into that as we craft a way forward."
But while U.S. forces may be able to eliminate the ISIS on Syria and Iraq, it has to be noted its members aren't all concentrated there.
On Aug. 9, a jihadi posted online warnings which describe attacks on U.S. cities. A photo on Twitter showed someone holding up a smartphone, displaying a picture of the ISIS flag, in front of the White House with the message, "[W]e are here #America near our #target :) sooooooooooooon."
On June 30, another photo was posted online with a hand-written note in Arabic held up in front of the Old Republic Building in Chicago. The message, dated Aug. 20, read, "Soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will pass from here soon."
Dempsey said a series of meetings have been ongoing between the U.S. and its' allies in the region in order to get a better understanding of the threat posed by Islamic State group.
Those talks will "set the conditions for some kind of coalition to form," he said.
"It is not just about defense. It is not just about keeping the right people off of aircraft. It's about offense. It's about disabling ISIS. It is about making them more worried, more consumed with protecting their own survivability rather than threatening yours or mine," Hayden said.