Rep. Ron DeSantis on terror suspect accused of trying to attack Key West beach


This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” July 28, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Remember those Tunisia attacks where, you know, a guy just rampaged a beach and killed dozens of beachgoers?

Well, someone apparently was trying to do the same thing here, in Key West, more to the point. But authorities have apparently stopped him.

To chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge with more — Catherine.


According to this 15-page criminal complaint that was just unsealed in a Florida federal court, the 23-year-old suspect, Harlem Suarez, first came to the attention of the FBI back in April after he allegedly made pro-ISIS postings on Facebook. Riddled with typos, they read in part — quote — “We are the Islamic State. We are ISIS Muslims, and soon we will — the rest of warrior will come to hear us, and from Canada and Mexico and bring the caliphate here and start fighting who are against Muslims.”

A month later, in May, an FBI informant made contact with the 23-year-old, who lives in Key West, Florida. It was during those conversations with the informant that Suarez alleged that they needed more ISIS recruits in the U.S. and that he wanted to develop a bomb to use for an act of domestic terrorism.

Specifically, the Justice Department alleges in the court documents that he intended to conceal a bomb with a timer in his backpack and then detonate the device on a tourist beach in Key West. More than 60 ISIS-related cases have been brought in the last year. That is now more than one suspect a week.

And speaking in Aspen last week, the FBI director was candid about how he sees the threat.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: What keeps me up at night is probably these days the ISIL threat in the homeland, and I worry very much about what I want see.


HERRIDGE: Those court documents were just released, and so far there’s been no immediate response from the suspect or a lawyer that we understand will be assigned to the case, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right. Thank you very much, Catherine.

Florida Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis joining us right now.

Congressman, I hate to hit you broadside on this, the news development here, but what do you make of this? It was in your neck of the woods of Key West where they were planning this in Florida. Now, you have reminded me many times on this show and others that we have got to be vigilant on this. We were here. But this looks like a close call.

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: No, absolutely, Neil.

And the problem that we’re having is that ISIS, with their propaganda network, you know, they’re inspiring people like this individual to commit these acts of jihad or attempt to do it. And so, as long as ISIS is achieving victories, and they’re able to paint a romantic vision of the jihad, I think it’s going to be — there’s going to be a certain segment of the population that’s going to respond to that.

But this is also nothing new in Florida. The first suicide bomber over in Syria was from South Florida who had gone over and actually trained over there…

CAVUTO: You’re right about that.

DESANTIS: … came back for a time, and then went back and conducted the attack. And the FBI or the State Department, they never interdicted him or even know what he was up to. And so I think the vulnerabilities are plain.

CAVUTO: This always comes up about who’s financing him, who’s helping him. Iran’s name comes up a lot.

But the focus for now seems to be secure this deal with Iran, it’s the best thing on the table. I know you were among those talking to John Kerry today, the secretary of state, who was arguing that it’s unrealistic, and if you think there’s an alternative to this, it’s a unicorn fantasy. I think those are his words.

But do you think that the administration will get its way on this and that this deal will go through, despite the majority of Congress’ opposition?
There’s not a veto-proof majority there to override what the president would do.

DESANTIS: Well, there’s definitely not a majority who would affirmatively vote to approve. You’re right about that.

I think there’s a chance that you could have a veto override. And the reason is, the more we learn about the deal, a lot of the details are worse than what I think a lot of the Democrats anticipated just a month or two ago. We know about the $140 billion Iran’s going to get. We know they keep their nuclear infrastructure. We know the inspections are weak.

Now we also know that there are side deals negotiated between the IAEA and Iran about the Parchin military site and the past military uses. And that is something that Congress is not being given access to. So I think just as a practical matter, if you look at it more like a liberal Democrat would, do you honestly feel comfortable voting for this agreement, when a key portion of it is something that you’re not going to be able to review?

CAVUTO: What do you think of the president’s posture in a press conference in Ethiopia yesterday, saying, no one could present a factual argument — I’m paraphrasing here, Congressman — against this deal?

And I’m thinking to myself — and I don’t know nearly as much about this as you do — that the fact is that any weapons inspectors there or nuclear inspectors cannot be American. That’s a fact. That does worry me. We know for a fact that we just can’t just barge in on the Iranians at any given moment. We have to give a heads-up that allows time to hide stuff.

And we know for a fact that a lot of the sanctions would evaporate as soon as this deal ensues. So there’s very little incentive for them, getting at least substantial amounts of moneys up front. Those are facts. And yet…

DESANTIS: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: … the position of opposing this or raising questions about seems to be taken as lunacy. What do you make of that?

DESANTIS: Well, I think he loses credibility with the American people.

It’s everything you laid out. Then they get to keep their intercontinental ballistic missile program. The arms embargo is going to go away. And oh, by the way, Iran is going to become the dominant power in the Middle East.
That’s ultimately going to be bad for our fight against ISIS, because guess what, Neil? These Sunni Arabs in places like al Anbar province in Iraq, where I served back in 2007, if they see Iran as the dominant power, a Shiite country, they’re going to be much more likely to want to join ISIS.

And so I think we’re unwittingly also fueling more people to join the ranks of the premier Sunni terrorist group, ISIS. And so there are so many things that are problematic with it. And to not even engage in debate I think is a sign of weakness. And that is one reason why I think there is the chance to override the veto. I’m not going to predict that, because I know the Democrats like to vote with the president.

But it’s very difficult to justify voting for this when you start really getting down in the weeds.

CAVUTO: You know, there was an exchange with Secretary Kerry and Congressman Scott Perry on this particular deal and essentially who was hurting whom. I know you have heard this, but I want to get your quick reaction to it.


REP. SCOTT PERRY, R-PENN.: … hear more about this deal or the U.N.’s approval or American sovereignty and the approval of the American people through their duly elected representatives, Mr. Secretary?

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Congressman, I don’t need any lessons from you about who I represent. I have represented and fought for our country since I was out of college.

PERRY: And God bless you for your service, sir.

KERRY: So, don’t give me any lessons about that, OK?


CAVUTO: That was a pretty tense exchange. By the way, Congressman Perry will be joining me on FOX Business tomorrow “Coast to Coast” at noon Eastern time.

But what did you think of that, that the secretary threatened to turn this around about, I know what I’m doing is for the good of the country and any opposition to it or any alternative is just a unicorn fantasy? What did you make of that?

DESANTIS: You know, I was very unimpressed by it.

The fact of the matter is, they chose not to submit it as a treaty and then they said, OK, we’re going to do this Iran nuclear review act, and they’re not even really abiding by that, because they’re preempting that by going to the United Nations, which they did. And then by not producing all the documents that the IAEA has, they’re not even complying with that framework.

So it’s basically, they view the American people, I think, as an obstacle to getting this deal. And I think they conducted themselves accordingly.
So I respect Secretary Kerry’s service, but come on. That doesn’t give you the right to go around the American people.

CAVUTO: All right, thank you, Congressman. Thank you very much.

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