Press Release

02.25.15

Homeland Security Committee Announces Task Force on Terrorist, Foreign Fighter Threat

Media Contact:
Majority: Susan Phalen
Minority: Adam Comis
Katko: Erin O’Connor
Sanchez: Barb Solish

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security, announced the creation of a bipartisan “Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel” in response to the threat from extremists fighting overseas and the danger they pose to the U.S. homeland.

Comprised of five Republicans and three Democrats, the Task Force will assess the U.S. government’s efforts to obstruct terrorist travel and to keep violent extremists from entering the United States. The Task Force will meet with government agencies, top officials, outside experts, and others to generate policy solutions and develop legislative recommendations to mitigate the threat.

Members will include: Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., Republican Lead; Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D- Calif., Democratic Lead; Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas; Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.; Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., D-N.J.; Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas; Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas.

Chairman McCaul said: “Thousands of Westerners, including Americans, have traveled overseas to fight with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. Armed with military training, combat experience, extremist connections and Western passports these individuals pose an exceptionally grave threat to America’s security and are only a plane-flight away from our shores. In recent months, terrorists have struck multiple Western cities, including Copenhagen, Paris, Sydney, Ottawa and beyond. We need to make sure we are doing everything possible to prevent these fighters and other terrorists from traveling to the United States to carry out more attacks. I am eager for the Task Force to start its work and to provide recommendations on confronting this urgent threat.”

Ranking Member Thompson said: “The danger of foreign fighters inspired by terrorist ideology is clear and alarming. We have been told time and again that the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–ISIL–is actively recruiting Westerners and promoting lone wolf-style attacks throughout the globe. The threat of a terrorist-trained extremist returning to the United States from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria is serious, and we must do what we can to prevent it. This Task Force will allow our committee to take a more precise look into this vexing problem, and I look forward to receiving the final recommendations.”

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., Republican Lead of the Task Force, said: “We face a constantly evolving terrorist threat to the United States homeland, and Congress must remain vigilant to protect the American people. Violent Islamist extremism is surging, and terrorist groups are attracting recruits from all corners of the globe.  More must be done to deter, detect, and disrupt the travel of these extremists between countries in order to keep them from reaching our country but also to keep them from reaching the battlefield. I am honored to serve as the Republican Lead of this Task Force, and I look forward to reviewing the strategies and programs in place to diminish the threat.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., Democratic Lead of the Task Force, said: “There are potentially thousands of Westerners who have taken up the fight with terrorist organizations around the world, including the so-called Islamic State. Armed with lethal training and Western passports, these individuals pose an imminent threat to our country and the world. Our bipartisan Task Force will examine the threats and develop solutions to address the dangerous and growing recruitment efforts by such terrorist organizations.”

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