“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace fretted over the rapid advance of an ultra-violent Sunni Islamist army into vast swathes of northern Iraq last week, warning that the gains made by the group threaten to make Al-Qaida “look like a tea party.”
Wallace spoke Sunday morning to Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The two discussed the lightning offensive conducted last week by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a terrorist group rejected by al-Qaida for extreme violence that now controls most of northern Iraq and threatens Baghdad.
The group now possesses thousands of soldiers, American-made armored vehicles, helicopters and hundreds of millions in cash reserves — a veritable terrorist army capable of advancing from their centralized Middle Eastern location and financing attacks on targets in the West.
“If you could put up that map again that shows the reach of the area that they now control,” Wallace began, “which, as you say, is an area about the size of Indiana, all the way from northwestern Syria, across to northern Iraq, to the gates of Baghdad.”
“Forget about Baghdad,” the newsman asserted. “Forget about southern Iraq. That is a safe haven, a base of operations, as we see stretching from Illinois all the way to Virginia. How do you take that out? I mean, this could make what Al-Qaida had in Pakistan look like a tea party.”
“Exactly,” Rogers replied, pushing a quick American military response to the crisis. “And that’s my concern, and why you have to be decisive in your strikes. This isn’t a frontal assault on a military. This is very targeted military strikes to provide disruption activities from (a) further expansion and (b) their ability to recruit, train and finance. All of those are important.”
“We’ve used very similar tactics to a large degree of success with al-Qaida leadership,” Rogers continued — though he admitted any campaign against ISIS would already be “bigger and more complicated” than the ongoing global war against al-Qaida.