American officials were given an intelligence briefing in May about the growing threat of Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Syria and the potential impact of their terrorist activities on the United States, prompting one senior official to say, "It makes you want to kill yourself," The Wall Street Journal reported.
The State Department has known for some time that jihadists wanted to create an Islamic state in parts of Iraq and Syria, but the administration was caught off guard by the sudden takeover
this week of two Sunni-dominated cities by an al-Qaida inspired group.
In May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and a gathering of counterparts from Gulf states agreed action needed to be taken to counter the threat, but consensus could not be reached at the time about what course should be taken.
"The U.S. can no longer be the sheriff for the whole world," Maryland Democratic Rep. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Journal. "We can't be everywhere, and we can't always use military boots on the ground."
Nevertheless, Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Journal that the advance of ISIS poses a direct threat to Americans.
"Guess what? These people will come home eventually and they are going to come home with, I believe, intentions to fulfill al-Qaida's dream for another attack on our homeland and, certainly, another attack on our Western and European allies," Rogers said.
President Barack Obama said Friday that the administration is considering what action the United States could take to halt the insurgency, but has already said there are no plans to put U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.
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