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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act of 2015

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2015-12-15

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    JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Congressman Ted Poe from Texas for his work on H.R. 3654, Combatting Terrorists' Use of Social Media Act of 2015.

    The proliferation of terrorism is an existential threat to our homeland greater than ever before because of the viral spread of extremism on the world-wide web.

    The challenge before us is balancing civil liberties such as freedom of speech with our national security interests.

    Various social media platforms are being utilized by Daesh leaders and their affiliates across the globe to reach, engage and radicalize-- instantly and for free.

    One only needs to view the gruesome propaganda videos put online by Daesh with evocative music, clearly edited to inspire violence with imagery that conjures an ``us vs. them'' emotion.

    The world-wide web was intended as a platform to share productive and creative knowledge and ideas.

    The sensory impact of the violent propaganda video is so powerful that a powerful counter-narrative is imperative.

    Through its online campaign, Daesh instantly gains access to vulnerable and impressionable minds, whether teenagers going through teenage angst or unemployed educated women and men who have limited economic prospects and feel disenfranchised from society.

    So what we have is a melange of Daesh recruits, copycats and wannabes all inspired vis a vis the worldwide web, ready to carry on and die for an ideology they don't fully grasp its gravity on them and their future.

    The evidence of this is tens of thousands of foreign fighters from all over the world who have left their homes and joined Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

    But then we also have those who do not even leave the comforts of their homes in carrying out their crimes.

    Part of what our government and governments across the globe must do is to fight back by cutting off terrorist bank accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Google and other social media accounts.

    Whereas money is the currency for compensating Daesh's recruits, social media is being utilized as a currency and tool for engaging and brainwashing these recruits.

    I commend our powerful military's might and professionalism of neutralizing Abu Salah who has been described as one of the most senior and experienced members of Daesh's financial network and in fact has been referred to as the organization's finance minister.

    I hope that our friends in Silicon Valley and the tech industry will join us in our fight against Daesh with their genius as we continue our collective efforts of addressing the role that social media will play in defeating enemies of the peace on the traditional battlefield as well as on the contemporary battlefield of the web.

    The past few months have been marked by senseless threats or actual violence and tragedy across the globe from the most recent details of the threat triggering the Los Angeles Public School District shut down, to the San Bernardino shootings, to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, shootings in Bamako, Mali, at the Bartaclan Theatre and other social venues in Paris, to attacks in Beirut, Lebanon and the downing of a plane claiming innocent lives of Egyptians and Russians.

    Violent extremism cannot be the ``new-normal'' in our nation and in our world.

    To combat the scourge of violent extremism, and make sure this is not our ``new normal'' it is important that we adapt to the capabilities of adversaries of peace through a multipronged approach, which is why I support H.R. 3654.

    Specifically, this bill requires the President to transmit to Congress a report on U.S. strategy to combat terrorists' and terrorist organizations' use of social media.

    This bill is in tandem with the President's comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists' and terrorist organizations' use of social media, encapsulated in the President's 2011 Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.

    Among other things, the President's robust plan seeks to protect our communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization.

    This is a top national security priority for the Administration and those of us here in Congress.

    The President's strategic plan and H.R. 3654 facilitate the creation of a report which will enable our country in our efforts at combatting violent extremism through: evaluation of the role social media plays in radicalization in the United States and across the globe; analysis of how terrorists and terrorist organizations are using social media; recommendations to improve the federal government's efforts to disrupt and counter the use of social media by terrorists and terrorist organizations; a classified assessment of the intelligence value of terrorists' social media posts; and a classified overview of training available to law enforcement and intelligence personnel to combat terrorists' use of social media and recommendations for improving or expanding existing training opportunities.

    Part of what the Bill seeks to achieve is information on our nation's policy that enhances the exchange of information and dialogue between the federal government and social media companies as it relates to the use of social media platforms by terrorists.

    Finally, among other things, the Bill also calls for our updated comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists' and terrorist organizations' use of social media, as committed to in the President's 2011 Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.

    As a nation, we must work together, private and public sector to prevent all types of extremism regardless of who inspires it.

    At the same time, countering ISIS, better to be referred to as Daesh, Boko Haram, al-Qa'ida and other extremists' violent ideologues requires our coordinated social media, intelligence sharing, law enforcement and community engagement strategy that will enable us to thwart violent extremism, saving many American lives.

    [[Page H9318]] The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3654, as amended.

    The question was taken.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.

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