The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the “jihadist Disneyland” of Syria has drawn thousands of fighters with western passports, making the fall of Iraq and fight even more dangerous.
“Absence of leadership and decisiveness is important in this. It’s too late to have long, political reconciliation meetings that will last weeks or months to try to get through even the finest points of difference,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told Fox this morning in a dig at President Obama’s call for Iraq to come up with a political plan that heals divisions between Sunnis and Shiites.
“You have an al-Qaeda army on the move. This isn’t just Sunnis versus Shias. This is an al Qaeda-minded group that is using all of the tactics of brutality to subdue Mosul and Tikrit and other places,” he said. “This is as dangerous as it gets. Why? We have thousands of Westerners and Americans in both the eastern Syria and Iraq who have Western passports.”
“They’re fighting with Al-Nusra in Syria or ISIS, and they will go with winners. So, this is what’s so dangerous. At some point, even ISIS was saying, and this got into the dispute with al-Qaeda leadership, we want to do external operations and, by the way, we know we have these Westerners who have come to jihadist Disneyland in eastern Syria that we can further radicalize, train, and send back to Europe and send back to the United States.”
Rogers said the challenge now is doing something to stop the momentum of ISIS, which is on the march after seizing control of Iraq’s second-largest city last week. That includes engagement with the Arab League.
“Now, you have an al-Qaeda army that, by the way, we believe now has two helicopters, which means they can move al-Qaeda army folks around the battlefield. We’ve never seen this before,” he said.
And, the administration needs to accurately characterize the threat.
“This is al-Qaeda. Again, this whole notion it’s Sunni versus Shia is wrong. Not every Sunni has joined al-Qaeda. We have an al-Qaeda problem. That’s what we have today, in a scale that we’ve never seen before. That’s our problem,” Rogers continued.
“Remember, when we didn’t do anything after 1993, the World Trade bombing, it led them to the 1998 eastern African embassy bombing, U.S. embassies in Africa, killed hundreds. Then, USS Cole killed U.S. sailors in Yemen, less than a year, after no action — they’re saying, well, this is really not our fight — we had 9/11, killed 3,000 Americans. This is an al-Qaeda-inspired group that certainly has al-Qaeda ties, that now has the capability to tap people with Western passports to send them back to Europe and the United States for terrorist activity. That’s a problem for us.”
He said Obama’s insistence on political reconciliation reads like an “excuse” to not act swiftly.
“There’s no way you’re going to get reconciliation. The reason that Maliki is doing what he’s doing, once the U.S. pulled out he realized he didn’t have many friends in the neighborhood and he tried to consolidate his power with the Shias. That was a mistake,” Rogers added.
ISIS, which has been on a beeline to Baghdad, has momentarily paused its advance to dig into areas already seized.
“Trying to consolidate their wins in Mosul and Tikrit own other places, build in their defenses and they’re doing it by sheer terror, summary executions,” Rogers said. “They’ve already implemented Sharia law, told women not to come out of your houses, all of that through fear.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stressed this morning on CNN that “Iraq and Syria combined are going to be the staging area for the next 9/11 if we don’t do something about it.”
“My biggest fear is that they’re going to march toward Jordan. And I hope America understands that, if the king of Jordan goes, if he’s the victim of these guys, then the whole Mideast is in turmoil,” he added.
ISIS has openly called for the head of Jordan’s King Abdullah, vowing to slaughter him as in infidel and enemy of Islam.
“My number one goal is, let us stop them from going into Baghdad, not the Iranians. If the central government in Iraq collapses — and that’s their goal — they’re trying to get the Iraqi government to collapse — the Iranians dominate the south. They will own all the resources in the south,” Graham continued.
“These guys will operate from Baghdad to Kurdistan, all the way into Syria. They will consolidate economic and military power. They will march towards Jordan and Lebanon. And they will use that space to attack us. If Baghdad falls, if the central government falls, a disaster awaits us of monumental proportions.”
The senator emphasized that the turmoil in Iraq “was as predictable as the sun rising in the east.”
“I blame President Obama mightily for a hands-off policy when it comes to Iraq,” Graham said.