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  • Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act

    by Representative Andre Carson

    Posted on 2015-12-16

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    CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation, which I believe is critical to our national security and that of our allies.

    Public estimates indicate that over 30,000 foreign fighters, including some from the United States, have traveled to Iraq and Syria.

    Over the last few years, Mr. Speaker, Americans watched as three teenage girls from Denver were arrested on their way to Syria. Ten young men from Minnesota were arrested--including the ringleader just last week--for a similar attempt.

    These young men and women, Mr. Speaker, and many others who make it to Syria, intend to carry out terrible atrocities against innocent people. Even more concerning, we know that some people hope to return and bring their fight to American soil.

    {time} 1215 As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I have confidence that the men and women in our intelligence community have the resources and expertise to keep us safe.

    Every day, they are tracking foreign fighters around the world, coordinating with our allies, and shutting down threats before they become a reality. We need to better understand this threat to create a whole-of-government response.

    Mr. Speaker, this information will help us conduct outreach into affected communities here at home so we can show parents what their kids are doing online and how to protect them from radicalization.

    Mr. Speaker, it will help us expand our support and coordination with our allies, including Turkey and Iraq, to show them what they can do, what we can do, and combine our efforts to stop these fighters.

    These reports, mandated in this legislation, will show where terrorists are coming from and where they train. It will help us assess when they may be returning home and what precautions we need to put in place. In light of the attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, this is absolutely critical.

    I encourage support from my colleagues.

    Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the [[Page H9352]] gentleman from Texas (Mr. McCaul), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

    Mr. McCAUL. Mr. Speaker, I want to first thank Chairman LoBiondo for his hard work on this legislation. And I want to thank the House Intelligence Committee for working closely with my committee to get this important legislation done. I can think of no more timely piece of legislation. I want to thank Ranking Member Swalwell from California for his hard work on this as well.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. Hundreds of our people have been radicalized, lured to the jihadist safe haven in Syria. They have been joined by thousands of Westerners, forming a terrorist army unlike anything we have ever seen.

    These foreign fighters represent a triple threat: They strengthen groups like ISIS on the ground; they radicalize others back home; and, worst of all, they may be sent back to conduct terrorist attacks against us in the homeland.

    We saw this in the streets of Paris, where battle-hardened extremists returned from Syria prepared to kill. And here at home, we have arrested so-called returnees from Syria, including one individual plotting a terrorist attack in Ohio.

    Earlier this year, I launched a bipartisan congressional Task Force on Combating Terrorists and Foreign Fighter Travel. One of their findings was that we must do more to track ``the great jihadi migration'' around the world.

    Our intelligence about foreign fighters in Syria is improving, but as we have seen, the threat can change almost overnight. ISIS is already urging its followers to go to its other sanctuaries in places like Afghanistan and Libya.

    We need to stay a step ahead of this threat, which is why this legislation requires the intelligence community to track extremist travel patterns and to report on a regular basis to Congress. It also requires agencies to monitor the number of U.S. citizens in terror hotspots and to report on how many individuals have departed those locations.

    This is the kind of early-warning intelligence we need in order to create a ``firebreak'' to slow the spread of Islamist terror, and to keep Americans from being lured to new jihadist safe havens.

    I would like to commend the task force for their hard work on this, including Mr. Katko.

    And let me just say this. I get regular threat briefings, and I have never seen a higher threat environment than we have seen since 9/11, and it is from the flow of foreign fighters.

    We have 5,000 of them that have Western passports, 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 different countries; 250 Americans have left to join the fight, and, Mr. Speaker, that is just who we know about.

    Now we know they are communicating in dark space. As the Director of the FBI says, they have one simple message: Come to fight in Syria or kill where you are. Unfortunately, we have seen them too often come to fight in Syria and, unfortunately, just recently, too many that have come to kill here in the United States.

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