Entries in Mike Rogers (3)


Rep. Rogers: US Knew 'Something Big' Was Coming Before Algeria Crisis

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that before the deadly Algerian hostage crisis, the U.S. had several reports that "something big" was coming against a Western target -- but did not have the details the government needed to prevent it.

"Just like the Benghazi event, we had lots of threat streams...There are reports coming in from all different types of sources saying, 'Something big is going to happen,'" Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.) told ABC News on Sunday.  "We didn't know for sure, for certain it would be this particular place under those circumstances, but we knew that they were trying to find a...Western target, which this clearly was."

Roger's comments came a day after the Algerian military forced a bloody end to the four-day hostage crisis at a BP joint-venture facility in the Sahara on Saturday.  Nearly all the terrorists and at least 23 hostages were killed, including one American.  Several Americans managed to escape the facility alive, but the fate of two others remains unknown.

Late Sunday, a video emerged that was reportedly shot during the crisis in which the leader of the terrorists, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed the "blessed" hostage taking as a victory for al Qaeda and said it was done to force the West to abandon the recent French-led military intervention in Mali.  The group also previously demanded that the U.S. release Omar Abdel-Rahman, the man who planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Before the Algerian counter-attack, one of the hostage-takers, Abdel Rahman el-Nigeri, reportedly singled out the Americans at the facility for "slaughter" should the terrorists not get what they wanted.

"The Americans that are here, we will kill them," el-Nigeri said, according to an audio tape aired on Algeria's Ennahar TV.  "We will slaughter them."

Survivors said the attackers focused on Americans and other foreigners, and one of the captors spoke excellent English.  Many of the terrorists were dressed as security guards, making the decision to run for it difficult.

"When you don't know what's out there," said survivor Alan Wright, "and we know that the terrorists are dressed the same as the security forces, that was a huge decision.  Do you stay or do you go?"

"For our people in Algeria, for their family and friends, this has been and continues to be a distressing and horrific time," said BP chief executive Bob Dudley.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Belmokhtar's group reportedly told London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat that despite the terrorists killed and no public concession concerning Mali, he considered the operation "successful by all standards."

Successful or not, Rogers said the incident was evidence of a real national security threat that has emerged from al Qaeda in North Africa.

"Clearly this is a growing threat in the region.  They feel emboldened," he said, citing the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.  "It can't just be Algeria. It has to be the whole northern Africa region and it needs to be a cohesive policy that is well-coordinated that covers all the different problems that we're finding in northern Africa... It really is naive to believe this isn't getting worse."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Congressional Intel Chairs Say Taliban Is ‘Stronger’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As 10,000 U.S. troops prepare to leave Afghanistan over the next six months, two top lawmakers on the House and Senate Intelligence Committee, just back from a trip to the region, said they are concerned that the Taliban is growing stronger.

“I think we both say that what we found is the Taliban is stronger,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, agreed with her assessment.

The Taliban, an extremist Islamic group, was removed from power in Afghanistan after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because they had provided safe haven to al Qaeda.  But the Taliban was never completely defeated, and after U.S. military attention shifted to Iraq, they have continued to fight.

Critics of President Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops say that the extremists could retake power in Afghanistan once our military is gone.

Despite a newly released Pentagon report that found that the Taliban is holding steady in Pakistan but slowly degrading in Afghanistan, both lawmakers said they are concerned that radicals trained in Pakistan could re-emerge as a new generation of fighters even if the current Afghan insurgency were to burn itself out.

“Are we willing to leave and have a safe haven re-form in Afghanistan?” Rogers said.

Members of the group are reportedly negotiating with the U.S government over a possible peace agreement.  Obama’s position is that it is worth negotiating with at least some of the Taliban.

“Many members of the Taliban -- from foot soldiers to leaders -- have indicated an interest in reconciliation,” Obama said in a national address from Afghanistan this past week.

But Feinstein and Rogers said they are still concerned about the Taliban’s treatment of women.

“The Taliban threw acid on them to prevent them [girls] from going to school,” Feinstein said, referring to an incident that happened in 2009.  “The Taliban, while we were there, tried to close schools.”

“We abandon those girls if we don’t get this right,” Rogers said.

All U.S. combat troops are scheduled to exit Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Intel Committee Chair Fears ‘Black Market Bonanza’ in Post-Gadhafi Libya

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is calling on the Obama administration to immediately launch efforts to secure a post-Gadhafi Libya, warning that chemical weapons could wind up as part of a “black market bonanza” for terrorists.

“Once the fall of Gadhafi happens -- well, then all of the jockeying and positioning happens. And we've seen that before,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told ABC News on ABC’s Top Line Wednesday.

“We know he has a chemical stockpile -- some 25,000 pounds of mustard gas,” Rogers said. “And he has other weapons systems -- anti-warcraft shoulder-fired missiles that are very, very dangerous in the hands [of anyone] beyond any legitimate government. And there it's very concerning that these things are going to start walking away in the weeks following the actual fall of Gadhafi.”

Rogers said it falls to the United States -- working with NATO allies -- to make sure that weapons systems controlled by Gadhafi don’t fall into the wrong hands.

“There really is only one nation that can lead this charge that has the right capabilities that can secure these types of weapons systems -- that's the U.S.,” Rogers said.

“I don’t think we have to send U.S. troops. We have other capabilities and we can do it with our NATO allies. But we can bring the right people, and you don’t need a lot of them, but the right people to help facilitate the accountability of these weapons systems and to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

“What I really worry about is these missile systems becoming a black market bonanza. Remember the next month or so after the fall of Gadhafi, the economics of this country are going to be pretty bad, worse than they are now and worse than that. So the temptation to sell off this stuff -- and we know that al Qaeda and other terrorists groups are trying to get in there and buy this stuff -- we know that for a fact.”

Rogers said he’s hopeful that the effort can be of minimal cost to taxpayers: “We’ve seized literally billions of dollars from Gadhafi that we can use to get them through this transition. That's their money, not our money. I recommend that.

“And we can bring -- again this is separate from the weapons issues -- but we can bring in the commercial expertise to get the oil flowing again. They were an oil economy before this, they can and should be an oil economy after this.”

Rogers said that while he’s glad President Obama’s policies have brought an apparent end to Gadhafi’s reign, “I thought the president was too slow.”

“This just took too long,” he added. “And remember he said ‘days not weeks’ -- well, you couldn’t do that in the way that he proposed. I think there were some things missing. He didn’t talk and take a leadership role about why it was important to be there on other things. That's the part that concerned me. At this point this is a NATO victory -- that's great, good on 'em.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio