Americans’ views of the ISIS threat has reached near parity with Al Qaeda back in 2003, according to a new CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Center. As we approach the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the CNN/ORC Poll shows that 45 percent of Americans see that ISIS is a “very serious threat to the U.S,” almost the 49 percent who thought the same of Al Qaeda 11 years ago.
“Americans are significantly less reluctant to use military force than they were a year ago, and the number who say that terrorism is the country’s most important problem has quadrupled, making it second only to the economy on the list of top problems in the public’s mind,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
Similarly, a recently covered Rasmussen Reports survey found support for U.S. ground troops in Iraq increasing to roughly a third from the 12 percent measured last December. Now, while a majority of Americans, 61 – 38 percent, oppose U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Syria to combat the terrorist group, those numbers represent a significant, increasing minority that far surpasses original support for ground wars of the past.
President Obama will announce his strategy to combat the ISIS army on Wednesday, which all indications suggest a long and protracted effort. Yet, a whopping 73 percent of likely voters in the Rasmussen survey said they are worried the president really is clueless when it comes to a strategy for combating the terror army, including 47 percent who said they are “very concerned.”
Further, 7 in 10 Americans believe ISIS terrorists are already in the U.S. and have the resources to launch an attack against the United States, and 90 percent say the group poses “a direct threat” to the homeland. Americans also believe that the threat from terrorism has grown under President Obama, according to the CNN poll. In September 2010, only 3 percent of Americans cited terrorism as the most important problem facing the nation. Now, it has shot up to 14 percent, which polls second only to the economy at 30 percent as the most important problem.
If we compare support for ground troops in Iraq in 2014 with past conflict, including the first Gulf War, support is relatively high. The general exception to the rule was in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when support for action in Afghanistan was nearly as high as President George W. Bush’s 90 percent approval rating. Support for the Iraq War in 2003 began roughly around the same levels, but support increased as Bush filled the traditional role of a wartime U.S. president, which is to make the case for war when war is unpopular.
Americans support additional U.S. airstrikes against ISIS by a 76 – 23 percent margin. As of Monday afternoon,the total number of U.S. airstrikes to date was 148, while the cost of the operations in Iraq is estimated at $7.5 million per day.
Meanwhile, the competition for who remains the greatest threat to the U.S. is only being decided in the public opinion arena. A recent report outlines a dangerous competition between the world’s two top Islamic terror groups. In the days running up to the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, this Al Qaeda vs ISIS terror rivalry is becoming a serious concern to those operating within U.S. intelligence circles.
“Al Qaeda and ISIS are in a competition and hitting the U.S. dramatically, preferably in the homeland, is key to winning,” Ryan Mauro, a national security adviser with The Clarion Project, told FoxNews.com. “Al Qaeda needs to prove it is still viable and relevant in light of ISIS’ success. And ISIS will be universally recognized as having eclipsed Al Qaeda if it can strike inside the U.S.”
While ISIS is at the center of recent media reports, as far as attacks on the homeland, U.S. intel says Al Qaeda is still the number one threat due to their incessant efforts over the years to garner sympathies from radicalized Americans.
(Correction: A previous version of this article used “parody” rather than “parity.”)