Republican Tom Tancredo was responding to a hypothetical question when he made the comments on a Florida radio station, according to Will Adams. He said Tancredo does not regret the statement and has nothing to apologize for if his remarks are kept in context.
The four-term congressman told WFLA radio in Orlando, Fla., that another hit on the U.S. from fundamentalists which outstripped the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks could be met by the U.S. "taking out their holy sites."
"You're talking about bombing Mecca," host Pat Campbell said.
"Yeah," responded Tancredo.
"What if you said we recognize this is the ultimate threat to the United States so this is the ultimate response. I'm just throwing out some ideas, because ... at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine.
"Other than that, all you could do is tighten up internally."
The current war on terrorism is unlike the Cold War where the threat of a nuclear strike kept the former Soviet Union in check, Adams said, and Tancredo was merely thinking of an alternative to again sacrificing liberties at home as a result of a terror strike. "He's always been a free thinker," Adams said, "and sometimes he's outside the box, sometimes things are taken to the extreme, sometimes to his detriment."
Tancredo is known mainly for his uncompromising views on illegal immigrants.
Mohammad Noorzia, co-ordinator of the Colorado Muslim Council, brushed off Tancredo's remarks as rash and unrepresentative. "Most people are decent in this country, and some have radical views," he told Denver's Rocky Mountain News. "It doesn't mean he speaks for the whole society, the whole country or the whole government."