by Bill Hoffmann
Intensifying U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) could provoke members of the terror group already on U.S. soil to stage attacks here, Rep. Peter King tells Newsmax TV.
“First of all, these people would’ve attacked us anyway, but they may feel an urgency to do it now to show that ISIS can fight back, that ISIS is not going to take this,” King, a New York Republican, said Tuesday on “The Steve Malzberg Show.”
“We always have to be alert to them, [but] we have to be even more so now because they want to show . . . the Muslim world they’re not going to sit back and take [it], they’re going to fight back.”
King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said he approves of intensified U.S. airstrikes against jihadists in the Middle East, although he wishes it had happened sooner.
“If [President Barack Obama] continues on this with sustained attacks, then as Americans I believe we should support him,” King said.
“My concern is whether or not the president will stick it through, because one night does not win a war. One week and one month doesn’t win a war. This is going to be a long fight.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. led airstrikes against Islamic State targets with the help of Arab states Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But King said none of the Arab members of the coalition was actually responsible for dropping bombs.
“I don’t know whether they supplied air bases, but they as I understand it did not actually take part in the attacks themselves,” King said.
“The administration is saying that each country can announce its own involvement.”
King said, however, that the U.S. will eventually have to do the one thing the White House is against if it wants to successfully engage ISIS: deploy soldiers on the ground.
“If the president and the country are serious about it, this is going to be a long, hard fight . . . Air power is not going to be enough, because ISIS is going to disperse, again, they are spread out, which makes it in some ways easier to get them, but air power is not going to win it,” he said.
“It can hurt them, it can knock them back, it can slow them down, it can weaken them, but it’s not going to kill them, it’s not going to destroy them. That’s going to take someone’s troops on the ground.”
King said it would be diplomatically advantageous to have Arab troops participate, but otherwise it will come down to soldiers from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“They’re the ones who can do this type of fighting. It’s better politically and diplomatically to have Arab nations involved, but bottom line, it’s going to have to come down to the U.S. doing the tough fighting,” he said.
“I’m not talking about a large-scale ground war where you’d have platoons and companies and battalions and brigades, but you are going, I believe, to have to have Special Forces.
“You will have to have intelligence on the ground . . .as spotters for the bombing attacks and . . . at least have U.S. troops embedded with whoever’s down there.”
King does not think the U.S. should count on recruits from the free Syrian Army.
“It’s hard to find who can be trusted and who can’t. It’s not going to be a large number, and then you have to train them and you have to get them out there,” he said. “It’s going to take six months to a year, and that can be a lifetime in a war.”
On Wednesday, Obama will also chair an unusual U.N. Security Council meeting at which members are expected to adopt a resolution requiring all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.