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Martha M.
Republican AZ 2

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  • Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act

    by Representative Martha McSally

    Posted on 2015-12-16

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    McSALLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4239, the Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act. This legislation fulfills a recommendation of the Committee on Homeland Security's Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel, of which I was proud to be a member. In fact, our chairman, Mr. Katko, and another member, Mr. Hurd, are with us today to speak on this important legislation.

    Our bipartisan task force investigated America's security vulnerabilities for 6 months. We produced a final report in September that made 32 key findings and over 50 recommendations to make Americans safer. Today's bill, which I cosponsored, is the direct result of one of these recommendations.

    We know that ISIS is adept at propaganda and has used social media extensively to attract fighters to their cause. At least 30,000 people from 100 different countries have traveled to Iraq and Syria, including 250 Americans. But their calls to action now extend past Syria and Iraq. In fact, our Task Force found ISIS now has a direct presence, affiliates, or groups pledging support in at least 19 countries.

    In my 26 years in uniform, including six deployments to the Middle East and Afghanistan and a final assignment at U.S. Africa Command, we watched foreign fighters flow to safe havens in Africa and the Middle East to get training and join the Islamic extremist fight. ISIS has accelerated this dangerous dynamic and is expanding, despite the President declaring otherwise. So our efforts to track these fighters should not be limited to Iraq and Syria. That is why our Task Force recommended that the intelligence community regularly track and update Congress on foreign fighter flows to all terrorist sanctuaries, which is what this bill requires.

    The administration's response to ISIS can only be described as anemic. We must take decisive action to defeat the ISIS threat and protect Americans.

    I am pleased that, in the last month, the House has taken action on several of our Task Force's recommendations. It is obvious that more work remains. And if the President won't act, the House will.

    I urge all Members to join me in supporting H.R. 4239.

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