Former Rep. Allen West tells Newsmax that the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles from Libya poses a "very serious threat" to the region — and has Israel very concerned.
The Florida Republican also says al-Qaida is not on the run as President Obama has asserted and is "just as threatening as ever."
West — a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — was a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Tea Party Caucus during his one term, but lost his re-election bid in 2012.
He now is director of Next Generation programming at PJ Media.
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A lawyer representing one of the whistleblowers with knowledge of the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September says 400 American missiles were "diverted to Libya" during the attack and fell into "the hands of some very ugly people."
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Tuesday, West comments: "I view this as a very serious threat to the region and our ally in Israel has to be very concerned
"Furthermore, [the missiles may be] getting into Syria where we already see an expansion of al-Qaida.
"You don't want to see promulgation of weapons like that because let's remember Lockerbie. It's very easy to shoot down and airliner.
"So al-Qaida has not been decimated. This is an organization that just broke out about 500 to 600 prisoners in Iraq, they broke out prisoners in Libya, and now you have an-Qaida in Yemen leader talking about how he's going to seek to free more of these militants, these radical Islamists all across the world.
"So we've got a serious situation here that we have to contend with, having 400 surface-to-air missiles that are unaccounted for. That's why we need to have a select committee about Benghazi, because there's something that happened there that no one wants to talk about."
West maintains that the Obama administration's decision to temporarily close American embassies in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrates that talk of al-Qaida's demise is "very premature. As a matter of fact, Benghazi definitely showed that it was not the case.
"And if al-Qaida and radical Islamism were on the run, we would not have to shut down those embassies like that. So I would tell you this, if I can use a little Army organizational structure metaphor: You can destroy a division headquarters but beneath that division headquarters there are three to four brigades, and each one of those brigades has three to four battalions, and each one of those battalions has four to five companies. So you can say we took out the core of something, but that does not mean that it is no longer an effective organization.
"You see that al-Qaida and its manifestations are still just as viable and just as threatening as ever."
Asked if capturing bin Laden, pulling troops out of the Middle East, and utilizing drone strikes is a viable anti-terror strategy, West responds: "No, it's not a viable anti-terrorist strategy. Osama bin Laden was one person. Osama bin Laden did not define the entire radical Islamic ideology. We're fighting against an ideology. We're not fighting against one person.
"There are many people saying that Syria is going to be worse than Afghanistan if these radical Islamists, backed and supported by al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, take root there. Then you're going to have another base or sanctuary from which they can launch their operations. And they're closer to Israel.
"I am very happy that the military removed the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt because they are a radical Islamic group. They're the grandfather of radical Islamism. But the Middle East is just as volatile as ever."
West says he is not surprised that the administration wants to delay implementation of another element of Obamacare, its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs, for a year.
"When you create a system or a new program out of 2,600 pages of legislation no one really understands, it is very unwieldy. It is an intrusive, onerous invasion that even the Obama administration is not ready to implement, and that's why instead of this cherry picking that we see happening constantly, we just need to say time out on this, let's make sure we get it right, what are the portions of this we can keep without having a big disruption.
"It's very important that we will continue to fund this government, but now let's set this thing called the Affordable Care Act off to the side and make sure it's better.
"No one ever talked about tort reform; that should be in there. No one ever talked about how we can allow people to go across state boundaries for insurance purchasing. And let's also look at the taxing of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.
"So we need to take a time out as some people would say and get this thing right."
West scoffs at President Obama's assertions that Washington is to blame for the government's — and his own — dismal poll numbers "because he is Washington. I don't know if President Obama hasn't realized it but when he looks in the mirror, he's the chief executive officer of the United States of America.
"He was the one who was supposed to come in and have policies that would promote economic growth, our energy security, our national security and foreign policy, but most importantly promote individual sovereignty and individual liberty.
"To try to say that people are focused on 'phony scandals' — there's nothing phony about what happened in Benghazi where we lost an ambassador and two former Navy SEALs and a state department worker, and now there could be upwards of 400 surface-to-air missiles that went missing during that attack in Benghazi. So that's not a phony scandal.
"What the IRS is doing is not a phony scandals; that's part of a culture of intimidation that his administration has created. So he is Washington. It's time for the president to accept responsibility and accountability."
The president recently offered Republicans a so-called grand bargain which would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent and close some loopholes in return for supposed investments in jobs.
Instead, West maintains that we need "total tax reform. Look at capital gains taxes, dividends taxes, the death tax, all of these things need to be examined and a lot of them need to go away.
"Then also we need to look at how we would reduce the size and the scope of the federal government."
As for immigration reform, "the most important thing is how do we get Americans back to work before we start wanting to grant citizenship or a path citizenship or a legal status to people that were here illegally," West tells Newsmax.
"So I do agree we need to have a piecemeal approach from the House that looks at this in a step-by-step process. We've got to get away from this 'comprehensive' approach. Let's do this thing in a way that the American people can understand and not have a repeat of 1986.
"We have to tangibly show the American people that we're serious about border security and serious about enforcing the laws of this great nation. And we can get to a point where you have a guest worker program. But we can't put the cart before the horse."
West also says "the IRS scandal really has helped the tea party movement, the constitutional conservative grassroots movement, because previously they took pride in being somewhat decentralized and not so much linked to any structure or organization. Now they realize they can be picked off and they can be attacked by Washington, the IRS especially.
"So they're going to come together. They're going to be a bit more strategic and operational in how they go about their business. So you will see a resurgence, you will see them play a huge part in the midterm elections and then in the presidential election in 2016."
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