WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Top Republican lawmakers are warning that the next 9/11-inspired attack could come from Syria and Iraq as Islamic insurgents continue to gain major strongholds within the Middle Eastern countries.
“I think it’s inevitable. The seeds of 9/11 are being planted all over Iraq and Syria. You don’t have to believe me, this is what they’re telling you they’re gonna do. They’re not hiding their agenda. They want an Islamic caliphate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CBS News “Face the Nation” while talking about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “They plan to drive us out of the Mideast by attacking us here at home.”
ISIS has already taken over the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Mosul and now the extremist group is bearing down on Baghdad. Graham stated that the U.S. needs to take action to stop them.
“We need air power immediately to stop the advance toward Baghdad,” Graham told CBS News.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also stated that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot keep his country together, and a U.S. alliance with Iran might be needed to do so.
Graham said a U.S. partnership with longtime foe Iran makes him uncomfortable but likened it to the United States working with Josef Stalin in World War II against Adolf Hitler. He says the United States has to do what it can to keep Baghdad from falling to insurgents.
“We also need to put them on notice: Don’t use this crisis to create a satellite state of Iraq controlled by Iran,” Graham told CBS News.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., concurred with Graham about potential terror attacks from ISIS.
“I guarantee you: this is a problem that we will have to face and we’re either going to face it in New York City or we’re going to face it here,” Rogers explained to “Fox News Sunday.”
Rogers continued: “These are not monkey bar terrorists out in the desert somewhere planning some very low-level attack. These are sophisticated, command and controlled, seasoned combat veterans who understand the value of terrorism operations external to the region, meaning Europe and the United States. That is about as dangerous a recipe as you can put together.”
CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate said that ISIS is planting “the seeds of a new terrorist movement.”
“You’ve got motivation mixed with opportunity, ideology and foreign fighters and all of that looks like a very extreme version of Afghanistan in the ’90s, plus what was happening in Iraq after the Iraq war,” Zarate noted. “This is a cauldron of future terrorist threats to the west.”
The White House said President Barack Obama got several updates on the Iraqi crisis in phone calls from National Security Adviser Susan Rice during his weekend stay with his wife, daughter Malia and friends in the Palm Springs area. Obama said as he left for the trip Friday that he told his national security team to come up with options for U.S. assistance to deal with the worst instability in Iraq since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Rice’s telephone briefings included updates on developments in Iraq, options being discussed for action and the movement of some staff out of the embassy in Baghdad amid the threat posed by the al Qaeda inspired insurgency. The calls came amid Obama’s trip to Orange County Saturday to raise money and deliver a commencement address at the University of California, Irvine, plus rounds of golf back in the desert resort town of Rancho Mirage.
Obama said Friday that he would take several days to review a wide range of options for action in Iraq, although he ruled out the possibility of sending in American ground troops. Administration officials said other options being weighed include strikes using drones or manned aircraft, as well as boosts in surveillance and intelligence gathering, including satellite coverage and other monitoring efforts.
Obama said the violence “should be a wake-up call” to the Iraqi government to improve sectarian relations and improve its security force. “We can’t do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed,” Obama said.
Iraqi leaders have been pleading with the U.S. for additional help to combat the insurgency for more than a year. While the U.S. has sold Iraq military equipment, the Obama administration has resisted drone strikes.
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