By MJ Lee
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) warned Wednesday that there are hundreds -- maybe even thousands -- of Hezbollah agents inside the United States capable of launching a terror attack if U.S.-Iran tensions continue to escalate.
"The American intelligence community believes we are very much at risk for an attack by Iranian operatives, which would be Hezbollah, that is a terrorist-trained force in this country. It really is the "A' team of international terrorism -- far more sophisticated than Al Qaeda," the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee said on CNN's "Starting Point."
King, whose committee is holding a hearing Wednesday to "educate" Americans and members of Congress about the threat of Iran, explained that Hezbollah has had agents and operatives inside the U.S. for many years for the purpose of fundraising and recruiting.
And while the conventional wisdom until recently has been that they were not necessarily stationed in the U.S. to carry out terrorist attacks, the Republican congressman warned Wednesday that especially given the recent tension between Israel and Iran, as well as questions surrounding Iran's nuclear aspirations, a scenario in which Hezbollah agents mobilize an attack remains a real possibility.
"We do know that a number of them have been trained as terrorists, so the question is,how quickly they can be made operational, and would they carry out an attack?" he said. "We estimate it to be at least in the hundreds, maybe the thousands of Hezbollah agents here in this country. And again, especially if things intensify between Israel and Iran, between the United States and Iran, could Iran take preemptive action in this action through Hezbollah?"
King cited a murder plot allegedly directed by the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. last year as a further warning sign of the potential threat that the country poses to Americans.
And if Israel attacks Iran, the congressman warned that the U.S. could certainly "find itself implicated or involved" in the crisis.
"Having said that, I don't think we can rule out an Israeli attack," King said. " I think we have to keep all the pressure out there. The fact that there can be complications is not a reason why Israel shouldn't do it or we shouldn't do it. We have to make sure whatever we do that it is going to work and realize that Iran cannot be allowed to get a nuclear weapon."
Wednesday's congressional hearing will include witnesses from the New York Police Department and others from the intelligence community.