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(CNN) – A former special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq says the Obama administration is not taking the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, seriously enough.
"They don't take the threat of transnational jihad seriously enough, as demonstrated by President Obama's assessment of ISIS a few months ago, calling them the JV team," said Ali Khedery, referring to comments Obama made to The New Yorker magazine, comparing the militant group to a junior varsity basketball team.
"In reality, ISIS represents the most virulent form of Islamic jihad the planet has ever seen. These folks are not Muslims, they are animals, frankly. They are a group that is so vicious, and so blood-thirsty, and such a death cult, that even core al Qaeda leadership – bin Laden's successors namely – have disavowed them," Khedery said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
In the last few months, ISIS has gained a foothold in northern and western Iraq, and parts of Syria. The militants have mercilessly targeted minority Yazidis and Christians in Iraq, threatening them to convert to Islam, or die. Thousands of Yazidis and Christians have fled their homes, hiding in nearby mountains, suffering scorching temperatures with little shade, food, or water available.
Khedery says Obama sat back and watched ISIS rise over the last three years, despite the violence in Syria, and allowed Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki's sectarian policies create an environment for ISIS to grow.
"And by doing nothing about it for months now, despite repeated warnings from the American intelligence community, what's happened now is the cancer has metastasized, and we have a major problem on our hands, a problem that threatens regional stability, and thus threatens global stability," he says.
Khedery wrote an open letter to President Obama in Politico Magazine, where he is a contributor, and says he is calling for "a modern day General Dwight Eisenhower ... to prevent the Middle East from descending into chaos."
"You don't need access to CIA and NSA (intelligence) to know that they are coming, and that another 9/11 is imminent unless we act decisively, quickly, and do it right now with our allies," said Khedery.
For our full interview with Ali Khedery, check out the video below.
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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