Last week, ISIS beheaded an American journalist, posted it on the Internet and got America’s attention. What to do about the terrorist group was the main topic of discussion on the Sunday news shows.
“[I]n one week’s time, the threat from the terror group called ISIS no longer seems limited to far away Iraq and Syria,” said ABC news correspondent Brian Ross on ABC’s “This Week.”
“In a bulletin Friday, Homeland Security said ISIS supporters are calling for attacks inside the U.S., although there are no credible threats at this time.”
Ross went on to discuss Foley’s executioner: “The hooded ISIS killer who beheaded 40-year-old American journalist James Foley is believed to be a British citizen. And the FBI is now using a database of known British jihadists to look for a match with his eyes, his hands and his voice with its distinctive London accent.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” British ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott indicated authorities are close to identifying Foley’s killer.
“I think we are close,” Westmacott said. “I’ve been in touch, obviously, in the last day or two with my colleagues at home. We’re not yet in a position to say exactly who this is, but there is some very sophisticated voice identification technology and other measures that we have got which should allow us to be very clear about who this person is before very long.”
NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel has spent years covering Iraq and Syria, and he explained the terrorist group:
You know, you’re dealing with a group of people who have been successful, who believe that they are winning, that they are creating an Islamic caliphate. And they call themselves the Islamic State, and they now have a state. They have a big area across northern Syria. They have a large section of Iraq.
They move freely between these two areas, between the part of Iraq that they hold and the part of Syria they hold. They have heavy weapons from the Iraqi army, U.S.-made weapons. And they have thousands and thousands of fighters, not just foreign fighters but local fighters as well. So we are dealing with a little failed state, that doesn’t see itself as a failed state. It sees itself as a triumphant state that is bringing the Islamic battle to the world.
On CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Michael Morrell, CBS News senior security contributor, offered further insight:
[T]his is the most complex terrorism problem that I have ever seen. There are no magic bullets. This is going to take a long time to get under control.
There are two things we have to do. We have to take away their safe haven, their territory. That requires a political solution in Iraq, which is going to require us to continue to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, our Gulf Arab allies to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, the Iranians to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, and then we need to get a solution in Syria to take that territory away.
And then the other thing we need to do is take the leadership off the battlefield. We have to identify them through intelligence and then capture or kill them. We have to remove them from the battlefield.
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined “Face the Nation” from her home state of New Hampshire, also Foley’s home state. She told host Bob Schieffer what needs to be done in order to defeat ISIS:
Well, Bob, obviously, in New Hampshire, the brutal murder of James Foley really brought home this week the threat that it presents to us and our country.
And what I think is that a containment strategy is not going to cut it. We need a strategy to defeat ISIS. As the secretary of defense has described, it is an imminent threat to us. It’s like nothing we have ever seen in terms of the sophistication of this group, the funding, the territory that they control.
And we need a strategy that is going to expand the airstrikes, going to support the Kurds further and the Iraqi forces, but in particular the Kurds, get them the military equipment that they are requesting, and also look at supporting more and more support and enhancement for the moderate opposition in Syria to deal with the sanctuaries in Syria.
We have to do that if we want to defeat ISIS, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said this week. And then I would say also the political solution is important. We need an Iraqi government that is inclusive.
We also need Muslim leaders to condemn ISIS, to make sure that they are saying that ISIS has to go. And, finally, I think, Bob, we have to address as a Congress where the defense budget is right now, because there is a disconnect with sequester from the threats that we face around the world and the resources we are going to need to fight this threat.