Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, spoke with Robert Satloff, host of Alhurra’s Inside Washington, about a range of security issues, including the United States’ approach to fighting terrorism, the latest developments in Syria and Iran’s threat to cybersecurity.
During the interview, which will air this weekend, Cong. McCaul discussed the United States’ reliance on drones in fighting terrorism abroad, and their effectiveness, but agreed there is “a backlash in some areas in Pakistan and the Middle East.” He went on to stress the importance of preventing the spread of violence. “Terrorism usually breeds in safe havens where there is poverty and lack of education,” he explained. He added that he would “like to see more of a focus on how to rehabilitate these areas, like Northern Africa, where [terrorists are] currently preying on young people.”
“The more moderate Muslims we can bring to our side and to help us in this effort, the better off we’re going to be,” he explained.
On Syria and the threat of spreading terrorism there, Cong. McCaul said, “Jihadists are pouring into that country to fight the fight. So, from a national security standpoint, homeland security standpoint, I think we’re very concerned about some of these more radical elements getting the chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction, because they would use those against Western targets.”
Regarding Iran, Cong. McCaul stressed that the concern is not only a nuclear threat, but also a cybersecurity issue. Iran’s cyber capabilities are “becoming more sophisticated in cyberattack. So, they hit the energy company ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia and destroyed 30,000 hard drives, crushing that company. At the same time, they’ve been hitting financial institutions in the United States with cyber-attacks.”
He also expressed concern over the presence of Hezbollah cells in the United States, saying “I think they’re in more of a support role in terms of financing back to Lebanon and to Iran. But you can convert from support to operational, and that would be the concern in the event something happens in the Middle East between Israel and Iran.” A strike against Iran, he warned, could bring serious repercussions if it triggered action by “these Hezbollah cells in the Western Hemisphere and the United States.”