WASHINGTON - Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees prodded President Barack Obama yesterday to take decisive action against what they say are growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.
WASHINGTON — Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees prodded President Barack Obama yesterday to take decisive action against what they say are growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.
The lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, offered bipartisan pressure on the White House to turn back the hazard of Islamist fighters who have taken control of vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Those militants now are looking toward the United States or western Europe for its next targets, lawmakers said.
Without offering specifics on any threats, the lawmakers said on television news shows that Obama soon needs to develop a comprehensive strategy to crush the fighters.
“His foreign policy is in absolute free-fall,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who heads the House Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who leads the Senate intelligence panel, said Obama is perhaps “ too cautious” in his approach to combating the Islamic State.
“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” Feinstein said, “and they’ll kill with abandon.”
The two lawmakers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the U.S. or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.
“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, ‘spill our blood.’??”
Rogers said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.
U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking Americans who are known to have traveled to the region, Rogers said. Those people, he added, should be charged under laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.
The BBC reported yesterday that Britain could temporarily ban British Islamists who go to fight for militants in Iraq and Syria from returning home.
British nationals suspected of being involved in terrorism would be allowed to keep their citizenship, a government source said, but would be prevented from re-entering the country for a time.
Rogers said an attack on a Western nation is the next goal for the group.
“ISIL would like to have a Western-style attack to continue this notion that they are the leading jihadist group in the world,” he said, using another name for the group.
Feinstein said she has seen nothing that compares to the viciousness of the militants who have overrun large portions of Iraq, killed civilians and beheaded American journalist James Foley. The Islamic State group has financing, military structure and weapons unlike any other militants’, she said.
Obama said on Thursday that he did not yet have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State organization, a remark that brought criticism from Democrats and Republicans.
Feinstein spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press, and Rogers appeared on Fox News Sunday.
Information from Reuters was used in this story.