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NCTC Director Nick Rasmussen participated in a counterterrorism-focused panel at the Aspen Security Forum July 22 along with Michael Chertoff, former Department of Homeland Security secretary; Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency; Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor during the Obama administration.

 

The four veteran security policymakers and global affairs analysts discussed a range of national security threats with moderator Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News.


Rasmussen provided his assessment that large numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria will likely stay and continue to defend what remains of the caliphate.


"Many if not most of the foreign fighters who made their way to the conflict zone will end up staying, fighting and potentially dying in order to maintain the caliphate," said Rasmussen.


Rasmussen explains that at one point, the CT community was worried about massive outflows of foreign fighters once the battlefield situation changed in Iraq and Syria and that Western countries and countries in the region would be flooded with returnees.


"I think now, speaking kind of broadly, that's less likely than we first assessed," he said.


The director later stated that he has not seen evidence that ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in spite of reports from Russia, Syria, Iran and human rights groups.


"I've seen nothing that would lead me to believe that the leader of ISIS has been removed from the battlefield," he said.


The full panel discussion, Tour d 'Horizon, can be found here.