President Obama: ‘Battle-Hardened’ Militants Pose Threat To United States
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — There could be tighter security at airports around the Tri-State Area and the country amid concerns that battle-hardened militants who have spent time in Syria and Iraq could present a rising threat to U.S.
While there has been no specific threat, President Barack Obama said he is concerned that radical militants are ramping up their efforts against the U.S.
“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 Obama administration is considering tighter security measures in airports amid worries that Islamic militants are creating a new arsenal of hard to detect weapons to target the U.S.
“A number of airports do not have the type of security they should have, so basically we’re saying anyone that will be having someone who can fly to the U.S., they have to increase their security,” Long Island Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday on the same program. “We’re going to be pushing it. Again I can’t go into all the details, but overseas airport security is a real concern we’ve had in the U.S.”
U.S. intelligence officials say the bombs are being made by militants in Syria with help from al Qaeda with the goal of planting them on planes bound for the United States and Europe.
“I wouldn’t say it’s imminent, but it’s serious enough that we should pay attention,” said security expert Manny Gomez. “Travelers, yes, should be concerned. Be alert, tell authorities if they see anything out of the ordinary.”
Earlier this year, travelers in the United States were told be on the lookout for explosives hidden in shoes, toothpaste tubes, liquids and cosmetics.
“You never know what could happen,” traveler Diana Vargas told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
“The world in general is a scary place right now,” said Eileen Williams from Bridgeport, Conn.
“Sometimes you give up some liberty to have your freedom and that’s the reality of the world we’re in today,” Deborah MacLellan of Riverhead told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer.
The president said that the U.S. must improve surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering to neutralize the risk, and U.S. Special Forces are going to have a role.
He also said military strikes against organizations that could do us harm may be utilized.
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