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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Current Iraq Situation


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And joining me now is Republican Congressman Peter King. He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman, take us through this, what you know that you can share with us about this threat. And what are you concerned might happen here?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, Brianna, I think first we should say I'm not aware of any direct threat.

What we're talking about though is a -- the whole threat situation has gotten worse, not a particular threat, but the capacity of a group such as ISIS to attack the United States and the fact that one, you know, they're now getting sanctuary. Secondly, this group is the worst of the worse.

And we know they have attempted to attack the United States before. Back three years ago, when they were so-called al Qaeda in Iraq, they attempted to attack Fort Knox. So, we know they want to attack the U.S.

And the concern is that you would have affiliated groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which actually does have scientists working for it, that you could find these groups coming together and coming up with an explosive device which they believe can't be detected.

We saw this with the Christmas Day bomber back in 2009. There was an attempt then. And there's been other reports of similar type devices or variations of that device that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was working on.

And now the concern is that ISIS could be making use of that technology and advancing it, to the extent that they could have devices that couldn't be detected. Now --


KEILAR: So this, in a way, Congressman, if you're concerned that AQAP and ISIS could be sharing information, could be sharing knowledge and that other affiliated groups would be as well, is this a new thing and how much does this elevate the threat?

KING: I would say -- I would leave it at this. There's greater concern now, and to me, the threat was always elevated. This to me makes it more serious. And we have to be on our guard.

And we have to do what we have to do to stop it. We have to work with our allies to attempt to stop it. You hope that you're wrong. You hope that the threat is not there. But considering the cast of characters that's coming together, we have to assume that there can be a device that they would attempt to use against us.

Now, again, this has always been a concern, but there's more reason to be concerned now that you have these groups possibly coming together, and you have ISIS, which is so extreme and so deadly and is attaining so much power in that region of the world.

KEILAR: Have you been told about specific devices that are a possibility, but perhaps you can't share that with us?

KING: Yes, there's discussion of certain devices. It's not definite. And I really can't go beyond that --


KING: -- other than to say there have been reports.


And so when we're looking, obviously, folks are very familiar with security procedures at domestic airports here in the U.S. It's not always -- the security in international airports, it's not always as secure as we see here. Are there specific changes that you want to be -- that you want seen taken up abroad?

KING: Well, I think it's important.

My understanding is that I believe the Department of Homeland Security has come up with certain procedures that they want followed overseas. I believe they're waiting for White House approval. And I think, you know, the White House should give that approval. I don't want to go into what they are, because then we would be tipping our hand.

But I do believe that the Department of Homeland Security wants to have security improved at airports overseas, where the U.S. is the final destination. And I believe that --


KING: Yes. I'm sorry.

KEILAR: Oh, no, no. Please continue.

KING: Yes. There are certain airports that I believe to not have the level of security that's needed.

And we want to make sure they do and use whatever, not just influence, whatever pressure we can to make sure that that security is provided. And, again, DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, and TSA, both of them, Director Pistole and Secretary Jeh Johnson, they realize, I believe, the significance of this threat. They have come out -- my understanding is they have come up with proposals and they're waiting for a sign-off from the White House.

KEILAR: Thank you for coming own and talking with us. Congressman Peter King, appreciate it.

KING: Brianna, thank you.


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