Chairmen Green, Pfluger Request Classified Briefing from DHS, FBI on Foreign Threats Against Dissidents on U.S. Soil
December 11, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) and Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) requested a classified staff-level briefing from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on ongoing transnational repression threats, including the targeting of dissidents by foreign actors and their proxies against U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents within the United States.
In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray, the chairmen expressed their concern and provided multiple instances of transnational repression within the United States in recent years, including the experience of Masih Alinejad, who was the victim of multiple assassination and kidnapping attempts by individuals associated with the Iranian regime. Alinejad provided a chilling testimony before the Committee in October, urging the Biden administration to do more to stop acts of aggression on U.S. soil by foreign governments and those acting on their behalf.
In the letter, the chairmen state,“The Committee on Homeland Security (Committee) is growing increasingly alarmed by the continuous number of incidents of transnational repression within the United States by foreign governments. These brazen malign actions threaten democratic norms, our nation’s sovereignty, and show a lack of regard for international law.”
“Transnational repression is not exclusive to any specific country. We have seen these oppressive tactics employed by adversarial nations and those who our nation views as strategic partners. Regardless of our nation’s relationship with the perpetrating nation, using violence or harassment to silence dissident voices in our nation is illegal and should not be tolerated by our government.”
The chairmen conclude,“Transnational repression will continue to be used as a tool to silence views that run afoul of autocratic governments. The United States must remain a bastion for every person to freely express their views without fear of persecution from foreign actors. To assist the Committee’s examination of the transnational repression threats posed to the U.S. homeland, we request that the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation provide Committee staff a classified briefing no later than December 22, 2023 about these ongoing threats, including but not limited to information about the number of active plots by foreign actors or their proxies against U.S. persons or lawful permanent residents within the United States, as well as information about your respective agencies’ work and coordination efforts to combat transnational repression.”
Read the full letter to Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray here.
Transnational repression, as defined by the FBI, is when foreign governments stalk, intimidate, or assault people in the United States.
On April 25, 2023, Chairmen Green and Pfluger sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray requesting information on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) clandestine police stations uncovered in New York City, and reportedly elsewhere in the country. These stations suppress Chinese dissidents living in the U.S., conduct surveillance, and spread CCP propaganda.
On August 31, 2023, Chairmen Green and Pfluger demanded information from Secretary Mayorkas, Director Wray, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid on the persistent threats posed by Iran-sanctioned operations on U.S. soil, including arranging the assassination of former National Security Advisor John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On October 25, 2023, Masih Alinejad testified before the Committee about the malign influence of the Iranian regime on U.S. soil and the assassination attempts against her, stating that even on U.S. soil, “being safe is too much of a luxury for those of us who dare to criticize the terrorist regime in Iran.”
Most recently, on November 15, 2023, Secretary Mayorkas, Director Wray, and Director Abizaid testified before the Committee concerning threats from the vulnerable Southwest border, including by malign nation states.