Lindsey Graham: Assume the Worst About ISIS

Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 11:27 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The "Islamic State" terror organization has the capability to hit the homeland, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday, and it's "time now to assume the worst about these guys rather than to underestimate them."

"I would argue that the intel that we've been provided in Congress is that there are hundreds of American citizens holding U.S. passports, there are European citizens going to the fight," Graham, appearing on CNN "State of the Union," told host Candy Crowley. "They can penetrate America by having European and U.S. passports."

And while Crowley said there are some saying that the threat of ISIS, also known as ISIL, is not immediate to the United States, Graham disagreed.

Urgent: Do You Approve of Obama's Handling of Foreign Policy? Vote Here

"They're not the JV (junior varsity) people anymore," Graham said, referring to a much-criticized statement President Barack Obama dismissed ISIS six months ago to New Yorker magazine, referring to the terror organization as the "JV team."

Instead of being second-stringers, Graham said, ISIS is "the most prominent terrorist organization in the world, but they're not the only one. They're in competition with the other jihadist groups and the gold medal will be awarded to the group that can hit America."

All of the terror groups are "fighting for status with al-Qaida," said Graham, and those who "underestimate this threat, you do so at America's peril."

Meanwhile, Graham said that he does not believe the United States would have to coordinate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as pressure mounts on Obama to expand the fight against ISIS into Syria following the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

"I think the purpose of going in to Syria is to deal with the threat to the homeland," said Graham. "I don't think we need to coordinate with Assad at all. The goal is to hit ISIL in Syria, their command and control and logistic centers."

But the United States does need to "put everything on the table" and help the Free Syrian Army mobilize so it can fight ISIS on the ground.

Further, said Graham, "if our military commanders tell us that we need ground forces to defeat ISIL, which is a threat to the United States, so be it. We have got to win and stop these guys."

As the attack on Foley has been characterized as a terrorist attack, "I hope the new mission is to defeat and destroy ISIL as a threat to our homeland," said Graham.

The senator does not believe America will be safe if ISIL is not defeated.

"We should, in my view, look at ISIL as a direct threat to the United States, a threat to the region that cannot be accommodated," said Graham. "The strategy has to meet the threat."

But still, Graham said that he wants a full explanation from Obama if he decides to spread the U.S. action to Syria.

Meanwhile, Graham said that he has no problem with Obama remaining on vacation with his family during the crisis, or with disclosing the operation behind trying to save Foley and other hostages.

"My concern is that the president's strategy of leading from behind and [having a] light footprint has failed," Graham told Crowley. "He has to realize, as President George W. Bush did, that his strategy is not working. President Bush adjusted his strategy when it was failing, and he brought about a surge that worked. President Obama has to admit to himself, if no one else, that what he's doing is not working."

Urgent: Do You Approve of Obama's Handling of Foreign Policy? Vote Here

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