Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Actby Representative Adam B. Schiff
Posted on 2015-12-16
SCHIFF. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act, and I want to thank Chairman LoBiondo, Representative Swalwell, and the full committee chairman, Mr. Nunes, for their leadership on this issue.
This bill will help inform Congress and the public on one of the most pressing counterterrorism challenges we face today: the flow of foreign fighters from the West to and from Syria, Iraq, and other terrorist safe havens.
The Paris attacks brought home the dangers posed by citizens of Western nations who can move easily between countries, traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, and who may then return home to commit horrific acts of terror and violence in their own countries.
Tracking foreign fighters is a constant concern of the intelligence community and an issue on which we receive continual briefings. I believe these new reporting requirements will help keep Congress and the Nation more fully informed about this very serious threat to our national security.
Of course, tracking foreign fighters is not enough. We have to redouble our efforts to staunch the flow of foreign fighters to and from Syria and Iraq. In addition to intelligence coordination, this requires a serious, substantial, and new commitment from Turkey, whose border with Syria has proven to be a conduit for a large number of fighters, as well as oil, money, and arms entering and leaving Syria.
From the Mara line to the Euphrates, there is a 60-mile stretch along the Turkish-Syrian border through which much of the illegal trafficking in fighters and goods flow to ISIS. Turkey must close that border to ISIS. It has the power to do so, but does it have the will? Thus far, the answer has been, tragically, no, and this must change.
Turkey must stop the flow of foreign fighters from crossing into Syria to join the fight. Where the Turks have been unable or unwilling to stop that flow, Kurdish forces have stepped up and demonstrated much greater success. I believe that if the Turks are unwilling to do more to shut down the flow of foreign fighters and resources that cross that border, we should increase our assistance to the Kurds, who have proven themselves far and away the most effective anti-ISIS fighting force in the region.
Once again, I thank the chairman and Representative Swalwell for their leadership on this issue. I hope that, in addition to these reports, we will also hear from the intelligence community [[Page H9351]] about actions that Turkey takes to close down this critical 60-mile stretch of border between the Mara line and the Euphrates.
Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hurd).