December 8th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
4 months ago

Homeland Security chairman: Threat of terrorism spreading like 'wildfire' overseas

(CNN) - The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said the threat of terrorism overseas is "getting worse, not better."

"I personally see it spreading like a spiderweb, like a wildfire, through Northern Africa and the Middle East," Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

"As that threat increases overseas, so too does it increase to the homeland - and that's my basic concern as Homeland chairman, is to keep that threat outside the United States."

Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees told CNN earlier this month on “State of the Union” that terrorists have gained ground in the past two years and that the U.S. is not any safer than it was at the outset of 2011. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, agreed that the Obama administration has lost ground in the ongoing battle with global terrorism.

McCaul said that though policies put in place as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks have prevented a similar large-scale event on U.S. soil, President Barack Obama is pushing a false narrative about the nation's safety in the world.

"When the President of the United States talks about the, downgrades the threat, his narrative is that al Qaeda is on the run, and since bin Laden has been killed the threat is no longer existing - I think is a false narrative and premise because, as we see this threat all throughout northern Africa, as we saw Egypt fall, Libya, now Syria is a great culmination of the Sunni-Shia conflict."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Feinstein’s and Rogers' comments surprised him but acknowledged that low-level attacks by lone-wolf actors, like the Boston Marathon bombing, are still "very threatening."

But is the U.S. more effective now at keeping terrorism off its shores?

"I think we are better now than we have ever been, but we are never going to be 100% safe," Schiff said, pointing to the ongoing conflict in Syria, a country that he said has become a "magnet" for those looking to join Jihad.

McCaul agreed: "I think Syria is now the training ground for the world. … These rebel forces are more of a threat than anything."

CNN's Jason Seher contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Homeland Security • House • Mike McCaul • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. carl Christopherson

    With an assessment that terrorism growing abroad, you would think it a prudent course of action to deny anyone from the affected regions admission into the US. It would further be prudent to resurrect the civil defense and start training US citizens in the safe use of all military grade weapons so we as a nation of free citizens are fully prepared to defend our shores. Terrorism only works on those willing to cower before it.

    December 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. dajowi

    As long as America is allowing those who practice the world's most dangerous religion (islam) onto our shores the threat of terrorism will remain high.

    December 9, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Edwin

    @Rudy,

    Yes you have that right. Whether the world and U.S. are less secure should not be used to score political points, but they are. Republicans point fingers at the President not because he has control of the decisions but because he is from the other party. If the President had been a republican they would have blamed the Senate instead.

    That said – and blame aside – it is the job of the Executive to create and enact effective safety policies, but it is the job of the Legislature to give support through funding and confirmation of key positions. Since we long ago established this Legislature is unwilling to work towards the success of this Executive, why is it surprising our enemies are doing better?

    December 9, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. Robert N. constant

    This man has financial ties with Mitt Romney's Clear Channel Radio which brings you Rush Limbaugh's Hate Radio. What this man says is propaganda with an eye to the 2014 election. The Republican Party at this time has one agenda: discrediting the Obama Administration to score political points for the next Congressional election. They will do "whatever it takes" whether it be closing down the government, bringing the Nation to the brink of default or twisting and distorting facts into propaganda to advance their cause. They are devoid of honesty, truth or integrity. In short, they are Republicans.

    December 9, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Goby Dillis

    Yeah, The politicians want a common enemy to distract the people away from their poor performance in office, and also to facilitate the military complex for a tidy profit. They have systematically been inflaming the entire region with their random attacks and collateral damage. I think it should be quite clear by now who the real enemy is. The entire war on terror campaign wasn't at any point structured to deal with the issue. It was and will fail in its very design. It’s like beating up your neighbor daily and at no point expecting him to retaliate with whatever means are available. I think the boys in blue are going to garner a bit more attention from these groups as well. The security state in the US is guaranteed to facilitate the collapse of our republic and attacks on that structure will greatly enlarge and expand it to unsustainability. Doesn't take much imagination to cringe at the kind of garbage rolling out of the department of defense over the last 5 years. GOOD GAME

    December 9, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Joe

    Terrorists in Syria are supported by Saudi Arabia, Terrorists in Iraq are supported by Iran. Terrorists in Africa are supported by a variety of influences most of which are far more concerned with MONEY then ideology. There are no more bandits anymore we now call them all terrorists. The fact that the government snoop into everything to protect us is more of a concern. If they want to watch foreign entities in this country "Which they SHOULD DO" I don't think 70 year old Grandmas from Kansas are the problem. BUT don't shove the scare tactics down my throat. I already had breakfast this morning. Since we don't want to stop the terrorists we support, we wont stop supporting Saudi Arabia, and we cant do a thing about stopping the ones Iran supports UNLESS WE NEGOTIATE PEACE AND STICK TO IT.

    December 9, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. vinster76

    "got 'em on the run huh? " They running alright, they runnin here.......

    December 9, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. JiminNM

    Officials and appointees are not elected or appointed but installed by the one-world, globalist bankers who give you a morsel and steal your soul, like Obamacare which is about taxation, eugenics and a lot of other destructive things.

    December 9, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. richard in texas

    Cindy
    you make a good point but didnt realize it. It not just the United States that is threatened, it is all civilized society that keeps ignoring the income inequality across the globe. As soon as politicians and world leaders stop pandering to the multinational corporations and forbid them from exploiting their own people(Walmart et all) with poor working conditions, impoverished wages, long hours, and poor education, this treat will continue to get worse....and forget the international threat because as the income gap grows in the United States you can add domestic treat to the list. But instead of investing money on things like health care and education and helping people to live a decent life our politician would rather spend money making and thinking of ways to kill people. Greed has no bounds. Remember this always, a hungry desperate people are a dangerous people. A content people is no threat to anyone.

    December 9, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. : D

    Enjoy your police-state, America.

    December 9, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. Choir Loft

    And it was the United States that recruited, trained and equipped al-Qaeda in the first place. The terror organization has become a Frankenstein monster. How's that working out for you? Unbelievable isn't it?
    and that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

    December 9, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Edwin

    @carl,

    Training citizens in military weaponry is only a good idea if you can trust your citizens. Unfortunately, that is known to be false – there are many domestic terrorism groups. These groups are formed by American citizens who believe violent overthrow if the Federal Government is justified because they, personally, do not like the "policies" the Federal Government has. Because of access to weapons, the most dangerous of these tend to be extreme right, but I suppose a few extreme left ones are a threat, too.

    Denial of admission is also a non-starter. Such actions dramatically harm commerce while providing no benefit whatsoever – if we deny, for example, access to Pakistanis then terrorists will get fake passports from Yemen or maybe Australia. Unless we close our borders entirely we cannot block all chance of terrorists from entering – but blocking our borders is certain to accomplish the terrorists' mission of bringing down the U.S..

    December 9, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Justen

    The REAL REASON the " threat of terrorism" is spreading is because of THE TERRORISTIC US GOVERNMENT UNDER ADOLF OBAMA

    December 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Justen

    The only true domestic terrorist group is the dept of homeland security

    December 9, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. BO

    Obama stirred up the hornets nest with the Bin Laden murder and Benghazi.

    December 9, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Rosslaw

    Let's see, the repulbicans under Reagon sold poison gas and anthrax to Saddam Hiussein and shipped thousands of TOW anti-tank missiles in violation of US and international law to the Iranians. The Bushes covered for one of if not the largest financier of islamic extremism, the Saudis, moving 142 out of the US in the week following 9/11 when Americans could not fly. I'd say the terrorists have already gotten inside the tent.

    December 9, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. iReason

    The eternal boogieman. Real and imagined they can no make him pop up wherever and whenever they want. Keep us afraid of and against each other and we can turn on the masters and deal with them. The tools are better now than ever for "managing" the masses and having their way. Think its a conspiracy. It is. But because it is too big to believe, if you point at it you are accused of wearing an aluminum hat. The "big" lie is the most difficult to identify.

    December 9, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Steve

    Personally, I would rather see the Sunni fighting the Shia than to actually have them gang up on the west...

    December 9, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. SkippyCanCan

    The US will never be safe so long as it continues to take hypocritical positions on international situations based on greed and politics. Iran can't have the bomb, but Isreal has many and that's ok with us. Everyone must abide by UN resolutions, except for us and Israel of course. Take them to the world court in the Hague, unless they're Americans of course. If you believe in Amercian Exceptionalism (as many do) then expect to be hated around the world as we should be, just as we would hate anyone we came across that thought the rules did not apply to them and that they could make their own rules.

    December 9, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. steve harnack

    Isn't he part of the same bunch who wants us to get involved in Syria, thus giving them a reason to target us in what otherwise would be a contained conflict? The solution that he looks for is a massive expansion of our military to occupy every part of the world, because that is the only other option to just protecting our own shores. More "chicken little" to scare people into supporting American imperialism.

    December 9, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Rob

    So the chairman of the Homeland Security is reminding us how important his job is. Ok, got it, basic fear-mongering 101. And job security for Mikey.

    December 9, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!

    Whenever the government tries to make you afraid, the threat is actually them taking away more rights and privacy. Doesn't matter which party is in power–they both stink.

    "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin

    December 9, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. mike

    Terrorists are Sunni's yet this whole line of BS is designed to get the sheep running for an attack on Iran. The transparency of this fraud is there for all too see. The continuing buildup for an unjust attack on Iran continues apace.

    December 9, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Robert

    Robert N. constant: You are the worst kind of liberal lying piece of detritus.

    December 9, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. jorge washinsen

    As long as they are killing each other send them more bullets. We should pull every American from foreign soil.We should have ran every Muslim out of this country after 9-11 that was not a legal American citizen born here.

    December 9, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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