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Graham: Fight ISIS to Prevent More San Bernardino Shootings

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the way to prevent more mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday is to “make ISIL the losers they are.”  

The South Carolina Republican, who is running for president, told reporters that an all-out war against the terror organization would “probably fix the problem more than gun control.”  

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the massacre may have been a terror attack, but may also have been workplace violence. Suspects Syed Rizwan Farook, who was 28, and his 27-year-old wife, Tashfeen Malik, are believed to have shot and killed 14 people and injured 21 more inside a center that provides social services to disabled people. Farook had reportedly just left a holiday party at the center, for his coworkers at the county health department, before returning in combat gear to fire on them. Both Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police several hours later.

“It was probably not workplace violence,” Graham said. “Let’s see what the facts lead us to. The president declared this another example of a lack of gun control. I think the most logical connection here is probably a combination of people with a grudge, but with an agenda.”  

“This cannot be the new normal. The way to prevent this is you make ISIL the losers they are, that you take them down in their backyard so they don’t fight you in your backyard,” said Graham. “The day that we can destroy the caliphate is the day that it becomes harder for ISIL to recruit. I want them to be just one of many terrorist organizations that really don’t have a whole lot to sell.”  

Graham made his comments while formally announcing plans to introduce a sweeping authorization for the use of military force against the organization, which goes by various names including the Islamic State, ISIS and ISIL. His proposal includes no limitations on geography, timeline or the use of boots on the ground.  

“After Paris, I find a sense of urgency that even I didn’t have. We’ve seen the threat coming for years,” Graham said when asked why he has changed his mind about the need for Congress to authorize the use of military force.  

“We’re talking about dealing with ISIL as a threat to the homeland before they actually … meaningfully attack the homeland. I want to have a discussion that will allow us to stop what I think is a very likely scenario of a ISIL-led attack on the homeland like Paris or even worse,” Graham said.  

Graham said he was open to talking to fellow lawmakers with differing views on the scope of the resolution, but he wanted to actually have the debate.  

“What I want to do is try to start the conversation and build support where I can, find out where the friction points lie, and find a time and place where we can have a debate worthy of this topic,” Graham said. “I don’t think this should be a side issue. I think the Senate and the House should have a discussion among itself about how do we defeat ISIL?”  



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