December 8th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
9 years 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. Fish

    I'd be willing to bet that f the economy began to improve the terror threat would begin to decrease this is why we must always be diligent about maintaining a healthy economy a world economy, stop the slave labor and improve living conditions globally!!!!

    December 9, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. AndyF

    A collective failure of the Clinton then Bush administrations was to adapt policies to the realities of global terrorism networks like Al Queda BEFORE something really bad happened, and they didn't. While I have been and remain a supporter of Pres Obama, his tacit approach towards Middle Eastern Islamic nations to help both create and mend good relationships is commendable, but he is failing on assuring policies are adapted to shifts in how global terrorism operates and functions. But this failure is collective in that within the GOP itself you saw a big divide on what to do with Syria for examples. The McCain camp wanted action, no-fly zones, developing relationships and arming factions who themselves have fought against Al Queda-linked groups. However, you had a strong voice coming from Tea Party-backed candidates wanting the US to stay clear of any and all involvement with Syria. Obviously Obama missed a huge opportunity linking with the more pro-western Syrian rebel factions as the Al Queda dominated factions are now in the position of power. What is really sad, these factions who clearly area threat to the US come into a town or city after the other factions do all the fighting and clear the Syrian forces out of a town, and these fundamentalists set up their form of govt, impose their form of repression and murder, and are in the driver's seat as far as who would fill the power vacuum that will form if and when the current Syrian regime comes to its end. So guess what this Obama supporter can only conclude? Critics are right on this one, Obama is missing or overlooking a very critical issue vital to the very security of America and its people, and he needs to get on the ball now and not wait for his advisors to conduct weeks of straw polls to determine what direction to take based on where the political wind vain is pointing.

    December 9, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. ditdahdit

    "...the Homeland." Since Russia has always been known as 'The Motherland' and Adolph pretty much made 'Fatherland' a bad choice I guess that's all the Bush PR guys could come up with. Still sounds much more sinister than Vespucci's namesake, America.

    December 9, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. tony

    Spend the US defense budget on making masses of muslim environment Web and TV soaps showing how western education for wives and daghters results in huge increase of family incomes and living standards. Then saturate the air waves in the terrorist countries with them.

    Remeber it was Rock and Roll that brought down the USSR.

    December 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Cindy

    Ally, You are right for the most part and I am certainly not an advocate of seeing our young people killed abroad. What has happened however is that the growth of these Al Qaeda off-shots/affiliates has spread unabated since we withdrew our troops and they are gaining strength and various weaponry of potential mass destruction by the day. The terrorist military training is far more intensive than anything we are doing other than in our special forces. Their mind-sets are also very different which i will not touch upon now.

    The first thing this country needs to do is secure ALL ITS BORDERS, not just because of immigration issues but because of what is being carried back and forth across our borders.

    This is in large part why terrorism is spreading so out of control in Africa, the borders in those countries are very porous. The various government armies are lacking training in both military combat/confrontation and intelligence. Our military people remaining in many of these countries are there to teach and are not there for combative purposes.

    December 9, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. John C Finley

    If one thing isn't right, it is that the Republican Teapots are always looking for something wrong. Terrorism is a problem, but the threat of terrorism is shouting fire in a crowded room. Where is his paper showing that the communist have taken over the State Department. This is another wingnut McCarthy like mashup. Show me the money and then I will believe you.

    The extremist Islamic groups have always been a problem. And if they are not controlled or countered with knowledge and education, then it is a problem, But just screaming in the wind as this idiot teapot is doing is a problem trying to divert attention from the real problems that this Nation has.

    Unemployment, low wages, a disappearing middle class and poor education is the real problem that we have. Fix It.

    December 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Cheese

    just the gocernment run media spreading fear to justify the police/prison state growing in america

    December 9, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Testing 123

    Im not so afraid of terrorist as I am of our own government. Our government can take away your freedoms and all terrorists want to do is kill us, period! You are 8 times more likely to be kill by law enforcement then a terrorist, think about it.

    December 9, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Jack Triad

    I agree, terrorism is growing like crazy! Too bad most of it starts with the US government!! Too bad the US has funded most terrorism in other countries, then does false-flags in the US (like 9-11) and then attacks innocent countries for resources, power, and control. oh well...

    December 9, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. Mancee Grayce

    Ted Cruz is a terrorist. So is Palin, and all the other teahadist wannabes...

    December 9, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Who Will Protect Us From Our 'Protectors'?

    Don't you just love being told to live in constant fear?

    December 9, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Plato

    What? Terrorism is spreading easily in countries that are bogged down in outdated religious beliefs?
    What a shock. I had no idea.

    December 9, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. John Reagan

    It's called 'Austerity'.... Keep knocking the legs out from under people and eventually they realize what patsies they've been as they watch JP Morgan's CEO earn $32 Million per year for screwing the economy and then taking their homes... The same is true in Europe and the Middle East. Only a nincompoop would have trouble figuring this out, and only a Koch-puppet would deny it.

    December 9, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Best Post I've Seen Today, thanks Jack Triad........

    December 9, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Vern Wheatley

    Obama has made this all happen with his CHANGES. Wake up America !

    December 9, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. unc dig

    I'm not worried. Obama promised a year ago that Al Qaeda was defeated and he had single handedly conquered terrorism. Why would he lie?

    December 9, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Cindy

    That is very much a reality in many of these countries "Who Will Protect Us".

    Case in Point = Nigeria. Terrorist sect = Boko Haram (one of the most vicious extremist sects) In three northeastern states these people can't even lay down their heads at night, work their fields, worship in their churches and mosques. That is very much the reality for many people in this world today. Let's not let it happen here and these extremists think it is their "Muhammad given orders to exterminate non-believers.

    December 9, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. don

    Well its a great thing that our government is open again. Now we can resume fighting the bad guys !

    December 9, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Rianner

    "THESE REBELS ARE MORE OF A THREAT"... and yet Obama continues to support these terrorists in Syria by spending hundreds of millions arming and training them!?!?! HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE????

    December 9, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. Bigdadyeagle87

    I see some of you still believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and Obama. Keep living in your land of make believe!

    December 9, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Nina

    I don't recall President Obama ever stating "that al Qaeda is on the run, and since bin Laden has been killed the threat is no longer existing." I would like to see the film footage or the press release with that statement in it; otherwise, it just more blather from the Republican/Sour Grapes party.

    December 9, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Nat posted on page 9:

    Meanwhile, the liberals see the biggest threats in the homeland as gun nuts, 32 ounce soft drinks and styrofoam containers.....not necessarily in that order!
    NYC Mayor Bloomberg is the one who has tried to outlaw 32 ounce sugary drinks and styrofoam containers. He's a conservative.

    December 9, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC


    "THESE REBELS ARE MORE OF A THREAT"... and yet Obama continues to support these terrorists in Syria by spending hundreds of millions arming and training them!?!?! HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE????
    None of what you have written makes any sense because none of it has happened. The U.S. is neither arming, nor training, any rebels in Syria. You see, it's kind of hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Right now, the Syrian Civil War is Russia's problem, just as it always and rightfully should have been.

    The Assad regime is Russia's puppet regime, which gives them access to their only warm water naval port anywhere on this planet Earth. The last thing the Russians want is to see is for the Bashar government fall. The last thing that we, the United States, needs to be doing is arming rebels to do exactly that. That would lead on only one outcome: America vs. Russia, which is a fight that many on the right are all to eager to engage.

    December 9, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Chris

    A paranoid, frightened country: that is what the USA has become. Trillions spent on security theater, and all they can 'solve' are plots by idiots, who can't even afford boots and don't know how to make bombs, until the FBI mole teaches them how. Trillions spend on this... hundreds of billions a year, and children go hungry, illnesses go untreated and the US becomes more and more hated.

    December 9, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Cindy

    Nina, check MSNBC, I'm sure even they would have that........................ Not only did he say it, he said it repeatedly, just like "if you like your doctor"

    December 9, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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