ISIS: A Threat Far Worse Than Al Qaeda

On the evening of September 20, 2001, I listened to President George W. Bush address America in the aftermath of the most substantial terror attack in world history.

In assessing what had happened, and outlining what America's response would be to the threat of al Qaeda, there was one sentence that President Bush said that I believe was unheard -- or minimized -- by most. It rings loud and clear today as we now face a threat far worse than Al-Qaeda itself.

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."

President Bush was speaking about the fight against Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda following. He was speaking about an enemy that America was unfamiliar with, but one that was a threat against Western democracy and the freedoms by which we live.

Today we face a far greater threat than we faced on and in the aftermath of 9/11: a self- proclaimed group that refers to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- ISIS.

Let me be clear... ISIS is not a terror group, but a barbaric army of terrorists. ISIS is seizing cash, oil, and weaponry -- even U.S. weapons left behind -- and has far more money, funding and resources than al Qaeda ever did.

It is recruiting at rates that are going to be extremely difficult to deal with. ISIS' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is operationally far more powerful than Osama bin Laden, and he doesn't command and recruit covertly. ISIS is actively and aggressively recruiting throughout the region, including openly in many mosques. According to intelligence reports, Islamic extremists from around the world are rushing to join this barbaric army.

ISIS recruits mostly young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are primarily poor, unemployed and lack education, as well as many of Iraq's Sunni minority who have complained of being shunned by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government.

Recruiters not only encourage young men throughout Syria and Iraq to join by promoting jihad, but by also instilling a deep fear of retaliation by ISIS. Once the men are recruited, they are given cars, guns, cell phones and money.

The ISIS message is not just a hatred for democracy or the freedoms of the West, but a sick and demented interpretation of Islam, calling for genocide or an annihilation of Christian, Jews and anyone of another religion, including anyone who stands in their way.

By all reports, it is estimated that ISIS has as many as 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, including hundreds, if not thousands, of freed prisoners and Sunni loyalists who have joined the fight throughout both countries.

The threats to Jordan and surrounding states in the region are growing daily, but more important, is the growing threat to the United States.

All you have to do to understand the seriousness of these threats and their brutal and barbaric behavior is scroll through Facebook or other social media sites.

The gut-wrenching mass murders and executions of young children, the drive-by slaughter of civilians on highways, the burying of people alive, and the beheadings of many of their captives show the extent those in the ISIS army are willing to go to further their cause. And, unchecked, this will be just the beginning of their reign of terror.

For years I have talked about the threats we face from a radical extremist Islam. I have tried to get people to understand that al Qaeda was a just a small group in that battle. ISIS is far more dangerous, deadly and a greater threat to the United States of America than al Qaeda ever was.

ISIS will be even more challenging to deal with. We cannot underestimate the immediate threat it poses for the Arab region, but worse, if we don't assist in stopping the growth of this barbaric army now, Europe and our own country will easily become ISIS targets.

As President Bush said, this is going to be "a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."

If ISIS is not stopped, we will pay the price in the long run... a price far greater than the terror that reigned, and the lives we lost on September 11, 2001.

Whatever our government intends to do, a short-term fix is not the answer. I hope that the president, members of the House and Senate, and the American people understand that.