US Representative Michael McCaul has blamed “willfully blind” President Barack Obama for the expansion of Daesh (ISIL), accusing him of hampering the intelligence community’s ability to assess the terrorist group.
“We’re facing the most severe terror threat environment since 9/11,” McCaul, head of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told The Washington Times on Sunday, accusing the president of remaining “willfully blind to the growing terror threat because it ran counter to his narrative.”
“He said terrorists were on the run, and he made clear the global war on terror was effectively over, but he was wrong,” McCaul noted, adding that Daesh grew because “we were looking the other way.”
McCaul’s stinging criticism of Obama came shortly after the American head of state took the stage at the Pentagon to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In his speech, Obama warned of an “evolved threat” of terrorism that America is faced with today.
He also said terror groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh pose a direct threat against American people, despite sustaining what he called “devastating blows.”
“Fifteen years into this fight, the threat has evolved,” Obama said. “Hateful ideologies urge people in their own country to commit unspeakable violence.”
“Groups like al-Qaeda, like ISIL, know that we will never be able — they will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America. So, instead, they’ve tried to terrorize in the hopes that they can stoke enough fear that we turn on each other and that we change who we are or how we live,” he added.
McCaul, however, was not convinced with Obama’s description of the terror threat and criticized him for refusing to clearly define groups like Daesh.
“That’s partly a result of the tone the president has set at the top,” he said. “We cannot defeat an enemy we refuse to define,” he said. “So the next commander in chief must make clear what this one didn’t.”
Under Obama’s command, a US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against purported Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq since 2014, but it has done little to stop the group’s advances in the two Arab countries.
Daesh has even managed to expand its reach to Europe and the US mainland, carrying out deadly attacks there.
McCaul’s comments echoed similar remarks by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has accused Obama of “funding” Daesh.