South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham sounded the alarm Sunday about the growing threat of Islamic State launching an attack on American soil unless President Obama takes more decisive action to stop the terror group’s surge across Iraq and Syria.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that the well-funded, swiftly-strengthening organization, which has taken control of large parts of both Middle East countries, is a “direct threat to our homeland.”
“Mr. President, be honest with the threat we face,” Graham said. “They are coming.”
Graham was critical of the president's decision late last week to order a series of limited airstrikes at Islamic State military installations in northern Iraq to stop members from killing American personnel and the thousands of Christians, Kurds and others who have fled into the Sinjar Mountains.
However, he posed no solution or his own strategy, as public-opinion polls show the American public is war weary and reluctant to send U.S. troops back into Iraq.
Graham’s argument also follows a Vice News video that appears to show an Islamic State militant saying, “We will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” The video was released before Obama ordered the air strikes, in addition to humanitarian-aid drops.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told Fox News that he supports the president’s strategy, particularly the humanitarian effort and repeated the administration’s argument that the best way to stop Islamic State is for Iraq to develop a stronger, more-inclusive government.
However, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat and the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is taking a more hawkish stance, similar to Graham’s.
“It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront [Islamic State] now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future,” she said Friday after the airstrikes were announced. “Inaction is no longer an option.”
She and others have said for months that Islamic State is recruiting and training fighters from Europe and the United States who could come home and launch a terror attack.
Graham also argued that Islamic State’s nearly unchecked rise is the result of Obama failing last year to take action against the group in Syria, even after the FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials warned the White House and Congress of its growing, global threat.
“Your game plan cannot protect the United States,” Graham said Sunday, addressing Obama.
Such rhetoric tracks closely to that used in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers from both parties voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to take military action against Iraq in the hopes of combating terrorism.
At the time, many said the United States faced a choice of fighting terrorism on American soil or on foreign soil.
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, a close White House ally, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Islamic State fighters are a "growing and troublesome" threat but “we must not send the troops."
A breakdown in talks between Washington and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that would have allowed U.S. troops to remain in Iraq collapsed in 2008, and Obama withdrew troops in 2011.
Al-Maliki now is under mounting pressure to step aside, including requests from U.S. lawmakers.
The Islamic State group, which some lawmakers refer to as ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is "getting stronger all the time," warned Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"They have attracted 1,000 young men from around the world who are now fighting on their side," he said on CNN's "State of the Union.” "This ISIS is metastasizing throughout region. And their goal, as they've stated openly time after time, is the destruction of United States of America."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.