Graham: Al Qaeda 'on steroids' since Benghazi attack

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called the latest terror threat “scary,” and said that an emboldened al Qaeda has been “on steroids” since the last year's deadly strike on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. 

“I had a briefing with the vice president and it is scary,” Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union." “Al Qaeda is on the rise in this part of the world.”

“They attacked our consulate, they killed an ambassador, a year has passed, and nobody has paid a price,” he added. “After Benghazi, these al Qaeda types are really on steroids thinking we’re weaker and they’re stronger.”

Top administration officials huddled at the White House late Saturday over a terror threat that provoked the State Department to close more than 20 diplomatic posts and issue a worldwide travel alert.

More from The Hill
• King: Terror threat a ‘wake-up call’
• Facebook's Zuckerberg now building a political network
• GOP flips script on Obama with populist attacks

According to multiple media reports, U.S. officials say they’ve obtained new intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is in the final stages of planning attacks against a handful of U.S. and Western targets across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

“The goal is to drive us out of the Middle East…they want to drive the West out of the Mideast and take over these Muslim countries and create an al Qaeda-type religious entity in the place of what exists today,” Graham said. “So this is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast, and if we ever take the bait and try to come and home and create fortress America, there will be another 9/11.”

The South Carolina Republican said the Obama administration has handled this latest round of threats properly after having “dropped the ball” on Benghazi.

“I appreciate what the administration is doing, they’re taking the right approach to this,” he said. “Benghazi was a complete failure – the threat was real, the reporting was real and we basically dropped the ball. We’ve learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration’s doing this right.”

The security precautions by the Obama administration underscore the impact of the Benghazi strike, which fell on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

The last time State Department officials issued such forceful warnings of a terrorist strike was prior to that assault. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of being unprepared for the Benghazi attack.