An al-Qaida-inspired militant on June 19 stands guard at a checkpoint captured from the Iraqi army outside Beiji refinery in Iraq. (AP)
WASHINGTON — President Obama is concerned that battle-hardened militants who have spent time in Syria and Iraq could present a rising threat to U.S. security because they would be able to enter the country without visas on European passports.
“They’re gaining strength in some places,” Obama told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview that aired Sunday.
“We’ve seen Europeans who are sympathetic to their cause traveling into Syria and now may travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened. Then they come back,” Obama said.
The president said that the U.S. must improve surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering to neutralize the risk, and U.S. special operations forces are going to have a role. And he says military strikes against organizations that could do us harm may be utilized.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, interviewed on the same program, said that, “The terrorists in Syria are extremely sophisticated, very advanced, and so thousands of people can go back to Europe and come here.”