The United States should be careful not to strengthen al-Qaida if it decides to arm “specified rebels” in Syria, Rep. Peter King says.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, King, R-N.Y., said that so much time has passed during the rebel uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that al-Qaida has gained some control within the rebel movement.
“Obviously Assad is evil, and everyone’s interested he go,” said King, who serves on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees.
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But if the U.S. does decide to supply arms to Syria's enemies, it must ensure those weapons don’t end up in the hands of al-Qaida. An endgame with al-Qaida taking over the movement and replacing Assad isn’t acceptable, he said.
“But until then, I’m very concerned that we could just replace one terrible dictator with a terrible ideological movement which is aimed at our destruction.”
King also criticized the fact that government agencies have not been allowed to share technology that could have prevented the Boston Marathon bombings.
Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have separate lists, he said. “And unfortunately, it does not appear the technology is there to marry them up, which I think is inexcusable 11 years after Sept. 11.”
The Department of Homeland Security is working to get the issue fixed, King said, but in the meantime, foreign students entering the country on visas will be checked manually, which will result in longer airport lines.
He also criticized the fact that better methods weren’t used to find out that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become radicalized.
“Talk to his imam, because this is a radicalization stemming from a perversion of religion, King said. “Because of political correctness, I understand the FBI was not able to talk to anyone in the mosque to find out whether or not there were any conditions to lead them to believe he was radicalized.”
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