By Rebecca Shabad - 08/15/14 11:51 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) late Thursday accused President Obama of ignoring the threat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist group, poses to the U.S. homeland.
“I’m disappointed in the commander in chief for not addressing the threat that [ISIS] presents to the United States,” said Graham on Fox News’s “On the Record.” “Not leveling with the American people that the threat we face is not just in Iraq and Syria, but these people intend to attack us here at home and he has no strategy to deal with that.
Fighters from ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, have captured swathes of Syria and Iraq. President Obama launched airstrikes in Iraq against the group and humanitarian drops to help people trapped on Mount Sinjar last week.
The U.S. is also pushing for a more inclusive government in Baghdad in hopes of uniting Iraq against the militant group.
Graham hailed embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to step down, saying it would be a “great help” to further those efforts.
But he again pushed for the U.S. to expand its airstrikes to target ISIS in Syria, where the group has a strong foothold.
“You can do anything you want in Iraq. But if you don’t address their bases in Syria, where they have command-and-control and logistical support, you’re not going to solve the problem,” Graham said. “So what I would do is I would hit them in Syria with airpower, diminish their capability to attack our homeland.”
Graham said he would also arm the Syrian Free Army — part of the moderate, pro-Western opposition — to go after ISIS in Syria.
Asked if there are any direct threats currently to the U.S., or intelligence that signals such a threat, Graham replied, “yes” but didn’t provide more information.
“They are the hottest act in the Jihadist world,” he said of ISIS.
The senator noted that FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder have all warned that ISIS poses a direct threat to the homeland.
Graham’s comments came after President Obama spoke Thursday afternoon, declaring that U.S. airstrikes “broke” ISIS’s siege against the Yazidis, a religious sect targeted by the group, in northern Iraq.
Obama said he would continue airstrikes against ISIS to protect U.S. facilities and personnel in Iraq.