To Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, Saturday's thwarted attack by Moroccan gunman Ayoub el-Khazani, who traveled to Syria to fight last year, is evidence that the U.S. needs to ramp up its efforts in the fight against terrorism.
“The whole world is a battlefield and radical Islam is everywhere,” the senator from South Carolina said on "Fox News Sunday."
On Saturday, 25-year-old el-Khazani opened fire on a Paris-bound train, but was quickly tackled and subdued by a group of passengers, including two U.S. servicemen. When asked if the thwarted attack shows that the U.S. should limit passports to people from “certain regions” where radical Islam is more concentrated, Graham answered affirmatively.
“Absolutely. I think we need to be a nation at war,” said Graham, referring to the fight against the Islamic State. “We're letting our defenses down. We're not acting like we're at war anymore. We're acting like we're trying to fight a crime. It's going to come back to bite us.”
If elected, Graham says he will deploy a “surge” of 10,000 U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria. Though a significant escalation from President Barack Obama’s current strategy of relying primarily on U.S. airstrikes and support to local Iraqi and Syrian fighters, skeptics doubt that 10,000 ground troops would have a game-changing effect on the conflict, noting that after the 2007 surge in Iraq, there were over 150,000 U.S. servicemen on the ground.
Though Graham dismissed the current president as a “novice” commander in chief, he accused fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of having a plan to defeat the Islamic State that is “worse than Obama’s.”
“Here is what Mr. Trump says: Go to Iraq and Syria and take their oil, use it for our benefit. Not only will that not destroy ISIL, that will turn everybody in Iraq and Syria against us and be a great recruiting boon for ISIL,” said Graham, using the administration’s preferred term for the Islamic State. “I don't think a plan like that is worthy of the commander in chief."