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The UK raised its level in response to events in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants have seized a swath of territory. Ashleigh Banfield is in for Erin Burnett.
August 28th, 2014
08:45 PM ET

Lawmaker: We have to execute a smart strategy to defeat ISIS

(CNN) - It's too soon to say what steps the United States will take against ISIS in Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama told reporters during a White House news briefing. "We don't have a strategy yet."

Obama said he's asked America's top defense officials to prepare "a range of options" about what the United States could do to go after ISIS in Syria, which he described as "a safe haven" for the Sunni extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

The President's remarks follow days of speculation about whether the United States had a plan to go after ISIS in Syria.

"We need to make sure that we've got clear plans, that we're developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard," Obama said. "But there's no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done."


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Filed under: Iraq • ISIS • Israel • Syria
August 27th, 2014
10:05 PM ET

Former jihadist: U.S. needs to be smarter about stopping Americans from turning into extremists

CNN has learned a second American may have been killed while fighting for ISIS. According to a coalition of opposition groups in Syria, the second American died in the same shootout where Douglas McAuthur McCain was killed this past weekend.

McCain's relatives, meanwhile, say they are still in shock over the 33-year-old's death.

The question - why are Americans leaving for jihad?

Some 100 other Americans are believed to have either fought in Syria since 2011 or been arrested before they could get there.


So what could cause someone to turn against their own country, leave their family and friends behind to become a jihadist on the battlefield?

OutFront, Ed Husain – was a teenage Muslim growing up in England when he became radicalized in the early 1990's. He is now the senior fellow at the council on foreign relations

Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • Syria • Terrorism
August 27th, 2014
09:50 PM ET

Rep. Schiff: ISIS is a "near-term threat" to U.S.

The mother of an American captured by ISIS is making a heartfelt plea to the terrorists to spare her son's life.

Steven Sotloff disappeared in Syria last summer, but he recently resurfaced in the ISIS video that showed the gruesome beheading of fellow journalist James Foley. The executioner vowed to kill Sotloff, too, if U.S. airstrikes did not stop.

Sotloff's mother appealed directly to the leader of ISIS Wednesday.

"Since Stephen's capture I've learned a lot about Islam. I've learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others," Shirley Sotloff said in the rare public appeal. "Stephen has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He's an innocent journalist. I've always learned that you the Caliph can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child."

As that mother begs for her son's life, the White House is considering airstrikes against the ISIS terrorists in Syria holding her son.

OutFront: Congressman Adam Schiff, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • Syria
August 27th, 2014
09:19 PM ET

State Dept.: ISIS is a very serious threat to the homeland

U.S. Officials tell CNN that they knew about Douglas McArthur McCain, a 33-year-old man from Minnesota who died fighting for ISIS - for nearly a decade but missed him when he traveled to the region.

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

A day after news broke about McArthur - a coalition of Syrian opposition groups announced that its forces had killed another American in battle.

The coalition, known as Nahrawan in Syria, released a new video of a deadly battle between ISIS and a coalition of rebel groups. The rebel group claims video shows the battle and the very day McCain was killed.

CNN can't confirm that but we do believe McCain died during this ongoing battle between ISIS and other rebuts.

At the same time, ISIS released video of ISIS fighters firing an American M198 Howitzer cannon.

OutFront, Brett McGurk is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran.

Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • News • Syria • Terrorism
August 26th, 2014
09:02 PM ET

American dies fighting for ISIS in Syria

CNN has confirmed an American has died fighting for ISIS. The homegrown terrorist, 33-year-old San Diego resident Douglas McCain, was killed in Syria over the weekend alongside fellow extremists while battling another Syrian terror group.

Death of American fighting for ISIS spurs question: Are there others?

Intelligence officials tell CNN they've been watching McCain for some time. CNN's Jim Sciutto spoke to McCain's family and has more on how a man born in America could die a jihadist.


Filed under: Iraq • ISIS • Syria • Terrorism
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