Republicans are sounding the warning that the next 9/11-like terror plot could emerge from the regions of Iraq and Syria that are currently dominated by an extremist group bearing down on Baghdad.
As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – which has already captured the cities of Tikrit and Mosul and is threatening to take the capital city as well – grows in strength and numbers, will it pose an immediate threat to the United States homeland as well?
Experts say the group’s increasing power and reach is concerning, though it’s not entirely clear when they might be able to threaten the U.S.
“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,” said CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. “This is a cauldron of future terrorist threats to the west.”
The bigger danger, Zarate said, is that the U.S. does not yet know exactly what the group will look like once it evolves. While ISIS might not launch an attack on U.S. soil tomorrow, he said, “I think the grave threat here is that you have the seeds of a new terrorist movement emerging very aggressively.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that U.S. officials have warned the next major attack on U.S. soil could emanate from the region.
“The seeds of 9/11s are being planted all over Iraq and Syria,” Graham said. “They want an Islamic caliphate that runs through Syria and Iraq…and they plan to drive us out of the Mideast by attacking us here at home.”
Graham’s concerns were echoed on ABC’s “This Week” by Ret. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who said that “all Americans should be concerned” by ISIS’ quick rise and success in Iraq. And on “Fox News Sunday,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said, “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.”
“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,” he said.
SOURCE: REBECCA KAPLAN