Keeping track of foreign fighters from the United States and Europe who have joined the Islamic State is a real challenge to the intelligence community, Rep. Peter King told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
The intelligence community had been working on tracking people joining the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) "for a year," King said.
The problem is that Americans don't always travel directly to Syria, and people with European passports can enter the United States "without having to apply for a visa," he said.
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"There are so many people traveling all the time. So it's a real challenge to the intelligence community," the New York Republican said Thursday. "Everyone in the . . . security community, law enforcement community, intelligence community has been aware of this challenge for at least a year."
People could be traveling to the Middle East for "legitimate travel," King explained, adding it wasn't "always clear who's fighting and who's not." He said the best way to determine who might be fighting with ISIS is to monitor and interrogate people, and to add "more intelligence assets on the ground in Syria."
King finds it curious why President Barack Obama "acts as if he has to come up with a strategy, now that this is something new," when the intelligence community has been tracking the problem for a year, and it had "been presented to the president."
Mixed messages from Obama are having an "impact," King said, because people in intelligence aren't sure "what the president wants."
"The president, invariably, he'll take one step forward and one step sideways, and he sends this mixed message out," he said. "I would hope that the president comes around and realizes that the military, and the intelligence community, and more and more members of the House and Senate are right."
Ultimately, King said Obama will have to determine a strategy for dealing with ISIS because of the "groundswell of opinion building up." He said the president must take "firm action," and he "can't be apologetic about it."
"He's going to be compelled to take action. I'd prefer that he did it voluntarily. I think he may be pushed into it a bit," King said.
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