RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that extremists could attack Europe and the United States if there is not a strong international response to terrorism after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria seized large areas across Iraq and Syria.
While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah's statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against ISIS and its supporters in the region. Saudi Arabia openly backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is concerned that ISIS could seize those same weapons and turn them on the kingdom.
"If neglected, I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America," the king said at a reception for foreign ambassadors Friday.
Official Saudi media carried the king's comments Saturday.
"These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street," the king said, urging the ambassadors to relay his message directly to their heads of state.
ISIS has been fighting moderate rebels, other extremists and Assad's forces in Syria for nearly three years. Iraq has faced an onslaught by the Sunni extremists and their supporters since early this year, and the country is roiled by instability.
Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally in the region, has taken an increasingly active role in criticizing ISIS. This month, the country's top cleric described the group and al-Qaida as Islam's No. 1 enemy and said Muslims have been their first victims. State-backed Saudi clerics who once openly called on citizens to fight in Syria can now face steep punishment, and the kingdom has threatened to imprison citizens who fight in Syria and Iraq.