The White House official’s remarks came just days after suspected Islamic State militants executed scores of Ethiopian Christians on a Libyan beach, also staging a suicide attack in the Afghan city of Jalalabad that killed at least 30 people.
However, the officials preferred to play down the obvious spread of the Islamic State. What's more, they warned against assuming that the jihadist group is gaining clout in the region.
"We're mindful of this threat, and it's one of the reasons that the president has marshalled so much international support for the effort to try to snuff out this ISIL threat in Iraq and in Syria, and not allow it to continue to spread across the region in a way that could further destabilize an already volatile region of the world," White House press secretary Josh Earnest was quoted by the Washington Times as saying.
"They probably have at this point gained at least a toehold in Libya based on the extraordinary amount of unrest and the almost completely deteriorated security situation," aDefense Department spokesman Steve Warren told the Washington Times.
According to the CIA, the Islamic State currently numbers at least 30,000 militants. The group has already declared the caliphate on the occupied territories in Iraq and Syria Caliphate territories, and is seeking to further expand its borders.