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Rep. Mac Thornberry: ISIS “Unique and Dangerous” Homeland Threat

“Where we are now is we have a huge festering problem... and it is going to take a combination effort to defeat ISIS,” says House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry. 

Mac Thornberry at CSPAN

Our old friend House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (TX-13) said Friday that as many as 3,000 members of ISIS have U.S. or European passports and could easily travel to America undetected.

“The biggest fear is that there are 10,000 to 12,000 foreign fighters that have joined ISIS and various estimates but many of them have Western passports,” Thornberry told CNN.

“They're either American or they're Western European passports. So they can come here to the United States homeland without a visa. And they can bring ... what they've learned about bomb-making and about assassinations with them here at home.”

According to reporting by Keith Laing of The Hill, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is spurring calls for major changes to a visa program that allows for easy entry into the United States for people with Western passports.

Up until now, notes Laing, lawmakers have mostly talked about expanding the program, not scaling it back.

But Thornberry said the presence of western passport holders in ISIS should prompt lawmakers to take a fresh look at the program.

“We know they don't hesitate to kill people,” he said according to Laing’s reporting. “And it's not just individuals. They don't hesitate to kill hundreds or thousands of people. And so I have no doubt they are planning on how they can do that here at home in the United States and in Western Europe.”

“The numbers vary,” Thornberry continued. “I don't know the exact number, 2,000 to 3,000, say, have Western passports. It only takes a handful, as we saw on 9/11, to do enormous damage.” 

Thornberry later told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News, “We’ve got to keep in mind first this is a different kind of threat than we faced from al Qaeda… this is the best financed, best equipped terrorist organization… they have more western passports than al Qaeda ever did that is why it is such a unique and dangerous threat to us and why we’ve got to take it seriously… A few bombs here and there is not going to make the difference.”

When asked by Bartiromo where ISIS got its money Thornberry observed that while they get some funding from Sunni interests the Islamic State is earning $1 million a day from black market oil sales, implying that calls for "sanctions" and other non-military means are not going to defeat the Islamic State..

“Where we are now is we have a huge festering problem... and it is going to take a combination effort to defeat ISIS,” concluded Congressman Thornberry.

Click here to watch Mac Thornberry’s interview with Maria Batiromo

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