Republican lawmakers on Sunday called for more aggressive U.S. action to defeat the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, accusing President Barack Obama of policies that have failed to thwart potential new threats on U.S. soil, according to Reuters.
Representative Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House of Representative Intelligence Committee, urged the administration to work with Arab partners on robust steps to disrupt the operations of the group, which has declared an Islamic caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria it captured.
Rogers was quoted by Reuters as having said IS is drawing support from Europeans and Americans who could travel undetected to Western countries to carry out attacks.
“They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores,” Rogers warned.
“We have the capability to defeat (ISIS). We now have to have the political will and we have to have the policy to do it. We have the first. We don’t have the second two.”
Rogers and other Republicans including Senator John McCain have been relentlessly critical of Obama’s security policy, including accusations that the president has shown a lack of leadership against terrorism since ordering the military operation that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
But a leading Senate Democrat cautioned against overstating the dangers ISIS could pose to the United States.
“I don’t think we can simply dismiss them. But to jump from what they have done, which is horrific ... to the assumption that they’re going to be an immediate, and within days, a threat to us here in our homeland, I think you don't jump to that,” said Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, according to Reuters.
“The proper strategy is a comprehensive strategy, and its foundation is political, not just military,” he added.
Obama has launched a campaign of air raids to help regional Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting IS in the country's north, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that the IS poses an “imminent threat” to the United States and may take years to defeat.
The White House said over the weekend it was ready to "take action" against any threat to America as it indicated serious consideration of U.S. military strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.