By Keith Laing - 08/24/14 09:45 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called for President Obama to target leaders of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria after the beheading of an American journalist last week.
“It’s about time to assume the worst about these guys,” Graham during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They’re not the JV team anymore, they’re the most prominent terrorist organization in the world."
ISIS leaders released a video last week of a man who appeared to have a British accent beheading journalist James Foley.
Graham said it would be easy for ISIS to target locations in the U.S. if they are not confronted directly by the Obama administration because members hold Western passports.
“I would argue that the intel that we’ve been provided in Congress is that there are hundreds of Americans citizens holding U.S. passports, there are European citizens going to the fight,” he said. “They’ve expressed a will to hit the homeland. That’s part of their agenda to drive us out of the Mideast.
“The goal is to hit [ISIS] in Syria to deal with their command and control,” he added.
“I think the purpose of going into Syria is deal with the threat to the homeland,” Graham said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said he was not as ready to declare ISIS was ready to strike inside the U.S.
“We have to begin with the assumption that they could be such a threat, then we have to evaluate what their capabilities are, what their intentions are,” he said. “I don’t think we can simply dismiss [such a possibility], but to jump from what they’ve done with this horrific incident with Mr. Foley to the idea that they would be an immediate threat to the homeland, I don’t think you jump to that.”
Reed said the issue of identifying Western passport holders who were members of ISIS was “a law enforcement, intelligence operation initially.”
Reed said he would be willing to support more forceful military action against ISIS only if they attempted to strike in the U.S.
“If directly related to a specific threat to the United States, then I think we have an obligation to go in and take that threat out,” he said.