Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a grave warning Thursday when asked whether ISIS posed "a 9/11-level threat" to the United States.
"This is beyond anything that we've seen," Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing. "The sophistication of terrorism and ideology married with resources presents a whole new dynamic and paradigm of threats to this country."
He was joined by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that the U.S. would be engaged in a long fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"Yes, it's going to be a very long contest," Dempsey assessed.
The Obama administration is calling for a coalition in the Middle East to fight back the Islamic State as it wages its campaign to form an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Dempsey said ISIS must be fought wherever it exists, but the U.S. has not expanded its mission to Syria.
"All options are on the table," Hagel said of involvement in Syria.