President Obama said Friday the U.S. had been “under serious threat” from Islamist extremists for his entire presidency, downplaying national security concerns about the gains made by Sunni extremists in Iraq.
Obama was asked in an interview with “Good Morning America” if the spread of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in northern Iraq dramatically increased the likelihood of a terror attack on the American homeland.
The president said he believed the U.S. had “been under serious threat my entire presidency,” tracing the danger “from those who embrace this ideology” to before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Obama conceded that the group had become more powerful in “some places,” but downplayed the idea that ISIS gains in Iraq meant the U.S. was in greater danger.
“We’ve also got a lot better at protecting ourselves,” he said.
The president’s former ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, argued that ISIS advances mean increased risk for the U.S. in an op-ed in the Washington Post earlier this month.
“We would be foolish to think that ISIS will not plan attacks against the West now that it has the space and security to do so,” Crocker wrote. “This is a more formidable force than Osama bin Laden’s group that brought us 9/11….”