The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Sunday warned that dangerous chemicals recently used against the Syrian people could be captured by al-Qaida and used on Americans unless President Barack Obama acts quickly to destroy the weapon stockpile.
Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, told CBS's "Face the Nation" that securing and destroying the weapons used last week in a Damascus suburb must be the president's top priority.
"My greatest fear as chairman of Homeland Security is these weapons ending up in the wrong hands of some al-Qaida jihadists, who we know are there fighting in the rebel forces, and that could be a direct threat not only to Western interest in the Middle East, but also directly to the homeland security of the United States," McCaul said.
The chairman said Obama has been presented with several options by the U.S. military to respond to the attack, and that four warships are currently off the coast of Syria. Missiles are one option to take out the chemical stockpile, but McCaul warned against direct engagement by U.S. troops.
"I don't think the American people have the appetite to put troops on the ground," McCaul said.
McCaul said that he is frustrated with the Obama administration for allowing the situation to "fester," and for taking a "wait-and-see policy in hoping for the best."
"Every time I get briefed on this issue, it gets worse because it's become a Mecca for jihadists," McCaul said.
"They are travelling from all over the world, al-Qaida factions into Syria to fight the Assad regime, so I don't really see any good outcome here, given the number one chief objective should be to secure and destroy these chemical weapons," McCaul said.
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