WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter believes President Barack Obama waited too long to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Speaking to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Carter said the United States let the terror group build up its capabilities in Iraq and Syria.
“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria,” Carter told the Star-Telegram. “Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”
Carter feels that there should be some boots on the ground in Iraq to follow up on the airstrikes.
“If we keep on working in Iraq and have some ground troops to follow up when we do our bombing, there is a possibility of success,” Carter explained to the Star-Telegram.
Carter added: “You have to have somebody on the ground to direct our missiles and to be sure you have the right target. Then you have to have somebody to move in and be willing to fight ISIS after the strikes.”
Carter also said that Obama’s Middle East policy has been hard to figure out.
“It changes from time to time,” Carter told the Star-Telegram of Obama’s policy. “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”
Both Leon Panetta and Robert Gates have criticized Obama after leaving their position as defense secretary.
An Internet video released by ISIS last Friday shows an Islamic State fighter beheading Alan Henning, the fourth such killing carried out by the extremist group now targeted in U.S.-led airstrikes.
“Mr. Henning worked to help improve the lives of the Syrian people and his death is a great loss for them, for his family and the people of the United Kingdom,” Obama said in a statement.
“Standing together with our U.K. friends and allies, we will work to bring the perpetrators of Alan’s murder – as well as the murders of Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines – to justice,” Obama said.
The president said that the U.S. and other nations will continue to take action to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State group.
The National Security Council, which advises the president, said it was using all means to bring home another U.S. citizen held by the extremists, Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger from Indianapolis. In a separate video released Friday, Kassig is shown kneeling while a masked militant says Kassig will be killed next.
“We can confirm that U.S. citizen Peter Kassig is being held by ISIL,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, referring to an Islamic State acronym. At this point we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video released earlier today. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal — military, diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence – to try to bring Peter home to his family.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)