Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel

Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel
Final Report with 32 key findings and more than 50+ recommendations to protect the homeland.

Comprised of five Republicans and three Democrats, the Homeland Security Committee’s “Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel” 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.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member
Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Republican Lead
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D- CA), Democratic Lead
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)
Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ)
Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ)
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX)
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)

Final Task Force Report 

The Task Force conducted an extensive, six month review to assess the severity of the threat from individuals who leave home to join jihadist groups overseas and to identify potential security gaps. The Committee presented 32 key findings and 50+ recommendations to counter terrorist travel.

According to the final report, we are witnessing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history in Syria, and foreign fighters have taken the lead in recruiting a new generation of terrorists to spread terror back home.

Key Findings:

A summary of the report is available, here.

A pocket card of the report is available, here.

 

Legislation From the Task Force

Committee has taken action on half of the Task Force’s nearly 50+ recommendations through a number of bills, including:

Public Laws

H.R. 158, Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), enhances the Visa Waiver Program to improve counterterrorism screening.  H.R. 158 was approved by the House on December 8, 2015 and was included in H.R. 2029, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016; approved by the Senate on December 18, 2015; signed into law on December 18, 2015 (P.L. 114-113).

Passed by the House

H.R. 3503,  Department of Homeland Security Support to Fusion Centers Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), would require an assessment of intelligence fusion centers nationwide and would increase accountability in the system for granting security clearances to State and local law enforcement.  H.R. 3503 passed by the House on November 2, 2015, by a voice vote.

H.R. 4239, Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act,  introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), would require the intelligence community to enhance its tracking of foreign fighter flows to and from terrorist safe havens abroad. H.R. 4239 passed the House by a vote of 423-0 on December 16, 2015 and was reported favorably to the Senate.

H.R. 4240, No Fly for Foreign Fighters Act, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), would require a comprehensive review of the Terrorist Screening Database to ensure past weaknesses have been addressed to identified other vulnerabilities which should be mitigated. H.R. 4240 passed House on April 27, 2016 by a voice vote.

H.R. 4314, Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), would accelerate the transfer of certain border security systems to foreign partner governments and ramp up U.S. efforts to enhance counterterrorism screening abroad—to keep terrorists from reaching America’s shores. H.R. 4314 passed by the House on March 21, 2016, by a vote of 371-2.

H.R. 4401, Amplifying Local Efforts to Root out Terror (ALERT) Act, introduced by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide countering violent extremism training to the Department of Homeland Security representatives at State and local fusion centers. H.R. 4401 passed the House on February 29, 2016 by a voice vote.

H.R. 4402, Foreign Fighter Review Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), requires the Administration to conduct a full review of information regarding persons who have traveled or attempted to travel from the United States to support terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq in order to identify and close security gaps. H.R. 4402 passed the House on February 23, 2016, by a vote of 397-0.

H.R. 4403, Enhancing Overseas Traveler Vetting Act, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), authorizes the development of open-source software based on certain systems of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to facilitate the vetting of travelers against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases, enhance border management, and improve targeting and analysis. H.R. 4403 passed the House on April 13, 2016 by a voice vote.

H.R. 4404, Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), requires the U.S. government to conduct an exercise related to terrorist and foreign fighter travel to find and eliminate vulnerabilities in America’s defenses against terrorist infiltration. H.R. 4404 passed the House on July 11, 2016 by a voice vote.

H.R. 4407, Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act, introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), establishes the primary advisory board in the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate and integrate departmental intelligence, activities, and policy related to counterterrorism. H.R. 4407 passed the House on May 16, 2016, by a vote of 389-5.

H.R. 4408, National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), requires the development of a national strategy to combat terrorist travel. H.R. 4408 passed the House on February 23, 2016, by a vote of 392-0.

H.R. 4820, Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act, introduced by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to use the testimonials of former or estranged violent extremists or their associates in order to counter terrorist recruitment. H.R. 4820 passed the House on April 26, 2016, by a vote of 322 – 79.

Introduced

H.R. 2899, Countering Violent Extremism Act of 2015,  introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), would establish the Office for Countering Violent Extremism at DHS and bolster the government’s efforts to combat terrorist recruiting in the United States.  H.R. 2899 passed the Homeland Security Committee unanimously and is awaiting consideration in the House.

H.R. 4615, Digital Security Commission Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), creates a National Commission to address the issue of terrorists and criminals “going dark.” H.R. 4615 was referred to House Energy and Commerce, House Foreign Affairs, and House Judiciary.

 

Task Force Press Conference
September 29, 2015 
House Radio and TV Gallery

Members:  Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, Chairman; Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS, Ranking Member; Rep. John Katko, R-NY, Republican Lead; Rep. Will Hurd, R-TX; Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-GA, Rep. Martha McSally, R-AZ; Rep. Filemon Vela, D-TX.

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