WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security summoned military and defense analysts to examine al-Qaida's presence in the Middle East.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the committee, called on former Rep. Joseph Lieberman, Ind-Conn., now working for the American Enterprise Institute, former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., director of the Wilson Center, a retired Gen. Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, to testify on the spread of al-Qaida in the Middle East.
McCaul said in a statement he was concerned President Barack Obama was downplaying the threat from al-Qaida abroad.
"We must take an honest look at the danger to the homeland from the spread of extremism," he said in a statement Wednesday. "Continuing to downplay the terrorist threat endangers our ability to defeat it, and this hearing will examine the consequences of the [Obama] administration's counter-terrorism rhetoric."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting to regain control over parts of Anbar province that fell into al-Qaida hands last week. Members of al-Qaida are also fighting alongside rebel forces battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
McCaul said trends in the Middle East show al-Qaida isn't on the run but "growing in strength at an alarming rate across the Middle East and Northern Africa."