ISIS vows Washington attack as leaders debate Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Tear-lined cheeks and flowers ringed the French embassy Monday as ISIS issued a new terror threat against Washington.

“We struck France on its ground in Paris; we will strike America on its ground in Washington,” declared an ISIS member, according to the Associated Press.

Paris memorial at French embassy in Washington
A memorial for the Paris attack victims at the French embassy in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Mark Meredith/Media General)

Undeterred, mourners in D.C. paid their respects to the fallen in Paris.

“I wanted to show this to my daughter,” native Parisian Audrey Lefevoe shared, struggling to hold back a flood of emotions.

As Lefevoe and fellow mourners memorialized the 129 victims of Friday’s Paris attacks, ISIS made its next public move, referencing the French massacre and vowing to wage a similar attack on America’s capital.

The man gave no specifics, no means or methods, but his declaration echoed the group’s singular, homicidal determination that preceded previous deadly attacks abroad.

D.C. Terror Threat

ISIS fighters had a clear message for Washington, D.C., on Monday: You’re next.

Under the new threat, D.C. and its most prominent residents remained defiant. President Barack Obama, at the G20 summit in Turkey, told reporters he will not consider additional ground troops in his quest to degrade and defeat ISIS.

Despite the “sickening setback” in Paris, President Obama stated determinedly, “The strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that is ultimately is going to work.”

Willard Hotel maids
Willard Hotel maids practice an emergency drill next to the White House on Nov. 16, 2016. (Photo credit: Chance Seales/Media General)

Back in Washington, the city functioned on a largely normal basis following the threat. That is to say, with the heightened alert of a capital city perpetually occupying the top rung of terrorist hit lists.

At the White House, between intermittent security lockdowns, Segway tours zipped around and selfie sticks snapped pictures of smiling families.

But the president’s embattled plans to crush ISIS and accept 10,000 Syrian refugees aren’t pleasing everyone.

Voters and lawmakers are split on what should come next.

ISIS War Talk

Republican 2016 candidates hit President Obama for his reluctance to “declare war” on ISIS. Jeb Bush tweeted that Obama “doesn’t understand” the enemy America faces, suggesting he lacks the leadership to lead the global fight on terror.

White House visitors expressed more skittishness about an official war declaration, fearing mission creep.

“It’s tricky because ISIS isn’t a country, so it’s a slippery slope,” said David Yuline, a disabled war veteran from New Jersey. Short of a full war declaration, Yuline decisively stated, “I definitely think there should be military action.”

When asked if enough is being militarily to keep U.S. citizens safe, Chris Lauritzen of Illinois reluctantly answered, “I would like to hope so, but I doubt it.”

French President Francois Hollande is pushing for coalition of global superpowers to carry out joint attacks on ISIS. Hollande hopes Presidents Obama and Putin will join his mission to unleash hell on ISIS, the AP reported.

Others urge caution.

“We have enough wars going on. I think they’re doing everything they can do and people just need to be patient,” said SanJuan Wheeler of Atlanta. She warned that if diplomatic and military plans are drastically shifted, “We’ll be in a bigger mess.”

Syrian Refugees Schism

The United States is currently slated to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. White House staffers say the refugees will face a “robust” screening process prior to arrival.

That promise of close inspection didn’t even approach appeasing congressional critics.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggested only Christians be admitted from Syria and slammed Democrats for avoiding the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” when addressing the Paris attacks.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) sparked a social media dust-up with a tweet reproaching President Obama for lacking “commonsense” on the prospect of ISIS terrorists filtering into the United States along with legitimate refugees.

Combat veteran Yuline suggested, “We need to screen the military-aged males coming out of Syria” and “make sure they’re not going to come to this country and cause problems.”

Alabama, Michigan and at least 13 other states have outright refused to accept further refugees, citing possible dangers.

Congressional Action Ahead

Congress returns to the Capitol on Monday evening and will set about addressing security concerns percolating nationwide.

U.S. Treasury Department
A Secret Service agent stands guard at the Treasury Department on Nov. 16, 2015, the same day ISIS threatened Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Chance Seales/Media General)

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is expected to redouble his efforts to give Congress jurisdiction over the process of selecting and screening Syrian refugees. He introduced the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act in October.

Lawmakers will reconsider an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) with respect to the fight against ISIS, although a vote is not imminent at this point.

Other leading conservatives, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), continue to urge France to invoke Article 5 of NATO, which would compel fellow members like the U.S. to join its declared war against ISIS.

Follow National Correspondent Chance Seales on Twitter @ChanceSeales.

Additional reporting by National Correspondent Mark Meredith. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMeredith.

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