Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees on Sunday prodded President Barack Obama to take decisive action against what they say are growing threats from Islamic State terrorists on U.S. soil.
The lawmakers, one Republican and one Democratic, offered bipartisan pressure on the White House to turn back the hazard of Islamist terrorists who have taken control of vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Those terrorists now are looking toward the United States or Western Europe for its next targets, lawmakers said.
Without offering specifics on any threats or suggestions how to confront them, the lawmakers said Obama soon needs to develop a comprehensive strategy to crush the terrorists.
“His foreign policy is in absolute free-fall,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee.
In another interview, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate intelligence panel, said Obama is perhaps “too cautious” in his approach to combatting the Islamic State group.
“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” Feinstein said. “And they’ll kill with abandon.”
The pair of 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 United States or its European allies if the group is not confronted.
The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the U.S. with their American passports.
“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” Rogers said.
Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. If they helped Islamic State fighters, he said, they should be charged under laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.
Obama said Thursday he did not yet have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State organization, a remark that brought criticism from Democrats and Republicans.