By Timothy Cama - 08/31/14 10:20 AM EDT
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday encouraged the Obama administration to do more to mitigate the threat of Islamic extremists committing terrorist attacks in the United States.
Rogers said he agreed with efforts undertaken in the United Kingdom, which will soon vote on a proposal to make it easier to revoke passports of suspected Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters. But the House Intelligence Committee chairman said the United States can take other measures to protect itself.
“We have to be careful how we do it, not to restrict U.S. citizen travel,” Rogers said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I do think that there is a way, through greater means of collecting evidence, to slow down these individuals.”
The United States can already take action against people who give material support to terrorism. Officials should use that law to prosecute ISIS fighters and sympathizers in the U.S., he said.
“We have a law on the books, we should use it. And we should be aggressive when using it,” he said. “I think if you can have a few of those prosecutions up front, people get less interested in traveling overseas.”
Rogers estimated that hundreds of American citizens have trained with ISIS. This followed his statement last weekend that estimates of 2,000 ISIS fighters with western passports was too low.
“The problem is, there’s no sure number,” he said Sunday. “And for the intelligence community to say that they have exactly the right number, they won’t do that because they can’t do that.”
He said there are likely about 500 U.K. citizens who have trained with ISIS, and hundreds more from Canada.
“What if one gets there and gets through,” Rogers asked of Canadians. “Now they’ve got a passport that allows them free travel to the United States of America.”
The threat also extends to al Qaeda, which Rogers said is still trying to make a name for itself as the best terrorist organization.
“It’s a very serious threat,” he said.