84% of Americans see Islamic State as 'critical threat' - poll

Reuters/Stringer
The Islamic State militant group (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) poses the most serious threat to the United States in the next decade, according to 84 percent of Americans quizzed by Gallup.

Americans place the threat from international terrorism "in general" at the same, critical level, according to the latest poll. "In a winter that has seen acts of unspeakable terrorism, with Obama seeking authorization for military action against the Islamic State, Americans are clearly concerned about Islamic militants and terrorists," Gallup said.

Several Islamic State fighters, who led a suicide attack on an air base where US and coalition forces are training Iraqi forces, were killed by Iraqi troops on Friday, AP reported. No Iraqi or US troops were killed or wounded, the Pentagon’s press secretary said.

Meanwhile some Americans argue that there's no morally acceptable way for the US to battle Islamic State militants.

“Of course we have the ability to go ahead and destroy ISIS – we could turn Iraq and Syria into molten glass. But that’s something that’s beneath us. That’s something that shows that the terrorists would have won, because at that point, we would be them," Congressman Alan Grayson told RT's Thom Hartmann earlier this week.

Apart from ISIS and global terrorism, two other issues are being perceived as "critical threats" by the majority of Americans. Seventy-seven percent view the possible development of nuclear weapons by Iran, which argues its nuclear activities are peaceful, as a critical threat.

READ MORE: ‘We’d be terrorists’: US could destroy ISIS only by turning Iraq, Syria into ‘molten glass’ – Congressman

Sixty-four percent also view North Korea as a "critical threat."

Surprisingly enough, the conflict in Ukraine, when placed in the context of other events, is not commonly seen as a looming threat by the majority of Americans.

Only 49 percent of those polled said the military power of Russia was a serious menace to Washington, while 44 percent admitted being on edge over the Ukraine conflict. "The conflict in Ukraine may not worry Americans as much because they see it as more of a threat to Europe than to the US," Gallup said.

Even before Thursday's Minsk agreement announcement of the cease-fire, set to begin Sunday, most Americans (54 percent) opposed the sending of US military weapons and equipment to Ukraine to combat the separatists, according to Gallup. Only four in 10 Americans appeared to support providing "lethal aid" military assistance. Earlier this week, Obama said that the US was examining the possibility of supplying “lethal defensive weapons” to the Kiev authorities. The idea is strongly opposed by Russia and the EU, who arge that there can be no military solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

Hours before the start of “Normandy Four” (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) meeting in Minsk, US Army Europe commander, Ben Hodges, announced that the US military will train Kiev troops fighting against militias in southeast Ukraine. The training, scheduled to kick off in March, will see a battalion of American troops training three battalions of Ukrainians.

The results were based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 837 adults, aged 18 and older, across the United States.

READ MORE: US military to train Kiev troops fighting in E. Ukraine – US Army commander