On Sunday, the U.S. continued with air strikes against the ISIS fighters wreaking havoc on northern Iraq. But Iraq, according to many GOP lawmakers, may not be the group's only target. (Video via U.S. Central Command)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: "This ISIS is metastasizing throughout the region. And their goal, as they have stated openly time after time, is the destruction of the United States of America." (Video via CNN)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: “What is your strategy to stop these people from attacking the homeland? They have expressed a desire to do so." (Video via Fox News)
REP. PETER KING: “Every day that goes by, ISIS builds up its caliphate and it becomes a direct threat to the United States of America. They are more powerful now than al-Qaeda was on 9/11.” (Video via NBC)
That was the gist of what Republicans were saying on the Sunday talk shows — arguing the administration has long-underestimated the threat ISIS poses.
The president's critics point to his January interview with The New Yorker when Obama compared ISIS to a JV basketball team.
Six months later ISIS swept through Iraq, sent the Iraqi army fleeing its posts and now has several thousands of Iraqis cornered without food and water — all in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate. (Video via Euronews)
Experts generally agree that’s ISIS’s primary goal — expanding across the Middle East. It’s focus has never been on attacking the U.S.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself said as much during a rare, videotaped sermon back in July. (Video via Monitor Mideast)
But USA Today’s Editorial Board warned Baghdadi’s goals likely have changed. “Like Osama bin Laden before him, his wider ambitions are unequivocal … ISIS is a primitive force bent on holy war to purge the world of nonbelievers.”
Not to mention, ISIS now has thousands of foreign fighters at its disposal. The fear is, the group’s western recruits could return to their homelands to carry out attacks. (Video via MEMRI)
But whether those fighters are capable of pulling off an attack is a whole different question.
A writer for CNN explains: “While some Western recruits are taught how to make improvised explosive devices in Syria, there is little indication yet that the group has created a training program tailored to attacking the West.”
Estimates vary on the number of Americans fighting with ISIS. Unnamed U.S. officials told The Washington Post as many as 100 have traveled to Syria or have attempted to.