McCaul: Syria 'Most Significant Threat' to U.S. Security

February 10, 2014 - 6:57 AM

Rep. Michael McCaul

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says he and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson "both agreed that Syria is probably the largest and most significant threat to the homeland security of the United States today."

That's because so many "jihadists" are flocking to Syria for military training: "This is becoming the worldwide training ground for terrists," surpassing even Pakistan, he told "Fox News Sunday."

The major concern is that Westerners -- Americans and Europeans -- are going to Syria "with legitimate travel documents" for terrorist training. Eventually they could return to the U.S. or Europe with the will and the ability to launch a successful terror attack.

"Right now, their goal is Syria, but after Syria, externally, they want to hit the West and the United States of America," McCaul said.

(In a speech last Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Johnson said, "Extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission. Last night, I returned from Poland, where the attorney general and I met with my six counterparts from the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Poland. Syria was the number one topic of conversation for them and for us. Syria has become a matter of homeland security.")

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who also appeared on "Fox News Sunday," said the rise of extremists in Syria "is probably going to be the most pernicious threat to the country over the next ten years. So it is a very serious problem," he said.

"We're already seeing it in Egypt, where some of the jihadis trained in Syria are now attacking Egypt government. And of course they're trying to train people to attack us here on our homeland."

Schiff described the situation in Syria as "a bloodly stalemate with horrific humanitarian proportions." He said no one has succeeded in ending the turmoil -- not the U.S., the Russians, the regime, the opposition nor even the recent peace talks in Geneva.

"Do we need a reset?" Schiff asked. "It's hard to see what the reset will be. I'm not sure that the United States getting deeply militarily involved is going to contribute to an end to this conflict.

"I think we have to try to keep the pressure on with both a bottom-up strategy like we're seeing in Geneva, and more importantly, probably, is what will happen outside of Geneva, and that is we need to talk to the nations that are fighting by proxy in Syria, to the Iranians, to the Russians, to the Saudis, to the Turks, to the Qataris and try to reach a resolution here."