Sen. Rubio: ISIS 'Potentially More Dangerous Today Than al Qaeda'

By Melanie Arter | June 23, 2014 | 11:44 AM EDT

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has the potential to be “more dangerous today than al Qaeda.”

“Well certainly potentially more dangerous today than al Qaeda. They're a very extremely radical group with increasing capabilities and a very clear design. They want to establish an Islamic caliphate in sections of both Syria and Iraq and other places,” said Rubio.

“Potentially, Jordan is next at some point, and then they want to launch attacks in the exterior, external operations, including targeting our homeland. This is an extremely serious national security risk for the country if they were to establish that safe haven of operation,” added Rubio.

ISIS seized a key border with Syria over the weekend, thus giving the group control over most of the Iraq-Syria border, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

President Barack Obama in a recent interview with CBS News said the ideology of ISIS poses a medium- and long-term threat.” He said the U.S. cannot play “whack-a-mole” and send in troops to different countries whenever extremist groups “pop up.” Instead, he said there needs to be a focused, targeted strategy where the U.S. partners with and trains local law enforcement and military “to do their jobs.”

Rubio said what happens in Iraq has a direct bearing on the future of every American, because al Qaeda had a safe haven in Afghanistan because of the Taliban, and now ISIS is trying to do the same thing in Iraq and Syria.

“If you look at what happened before 9/11, the reason why al Qaeda was able to carry out the 9/11 attacks is because they had a safe operating space in Afghanistan that the Taliban had given them. And now history is trying to repeat itself,” said Rubio.

“ISIS is trying to establish the exact same thing in the Iraq/Syria region that they're controlling, and then from this caliphate that they're setting up, they will continue to recruit and train and plot and plan an eventually carry out external operations in Europe and potentially even here in the United States,” he added.

“So this is a very serious national security risk for the immediate and long-term future of our country,” Rubio said.

Rubio said if the threat from ISIS is not nipped in the bud now, it could be harder to deal with down the line.

“I think this is an urgent counter-terrorism matter. … This is not about nation building or imposing democracy. This is a counter-terrorism risk that we need to nip in the bud. It is my view that we will either deal with ISIS now, or we will deal with them later, and later they're going to be stronger and harder to reach,” he said.