The group of militant Islamic insurgents that has taken over parts of northern Syria and Iraq could pose a threat to the United States in the future, two Republican senators said during separate talk show interviews Sunday.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, predicted that if President Obama doesn’t do more to stop the insurgent advance they would stage an attack on U.S. soil.
“Mr. President, be honest with the threat we face,” Graham said. “They are coming.”
The militant group which is referred to either as ISIS, for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; or ISIL, for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, recently launched an offensive on the Iraqi town of Irbil, where U.S. officials and military forces are located. The group has also driven members of the Yazidis — an Iraqi minority sect regarded as apostates by ISIS — to a nearby mountaintop where they are cut off from food or water, according to the Huffington Post.
Hoping to avert a humanitarian crisis, President Obama authorized three airstrikes on ISIS forces over the weekend. Graham, however, said that the president is underestimating the strength and reach of the group.
“[President Obama is] trying to avoid a bad news story on his watch,” Graham said. “This is not a replacement for a strategy to deal with an existential threat to the homeland. To every member of Congress, we've been told by every major intelligence leader in our nation that we're threatened. The homeland is threatened by the presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. To change that threat, we have to have a sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq. We need to go on offense.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said much the same thing on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” Sunday.
“The president made it clear that this was to avert the humanitarian crisis that they were taking these actions and to protect American military personnel that are in Irbil and Baghdad. That's not a strategy. That's not a policy,” McCain said.
“I would be rushing equipment to Irbil. I would be launching airstrikes not only in Iraq, but in Syria against ISIS,” he added.
McCain also hinted that many who have fought with ISIS are returning to their home countries and could be planning attacks around the globe. The U.S., he said, could be attacked as a result.
“These people that are coming to fight on the side of ISIS are returning to their countries in Europe and there’s 100 of them that we are tracking in the United States,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“If you read what they're saying, we are the enemy,” McCain said. “They want to destroy us. They are getting stronger all the time. They have attracted 1,000 young men from around the world who are now fighting on their side. This ISIS is metastasizing throughout the region. And their goal, as they have stated openly time after time, is the destruction of the United States of America.”
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