KATKO HIGHLIGHTS LACK OF COHESIVE STRATEGY TO COMBAT ISIS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee’s bipartisan Foreign Fighter Task Force, today joined House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and other members of the Task Force to publicly release their final report on combating terrorists and foreign fighter travel.
“This task force has devoted six months to examining the dangers of foreign fighter travel and America’s strategy to combat this multifaceted global threat,” said Republican Lead, Rep. John Katko (R-NY). “We are seeing a surge of foreign fighters from Western Europe and the U.S. These individuals make terrorist groups like ISIS stronger, they pose the threat of bringing their terror skills back home, and they have the capability to radicalize others online from abroad.”
The Foreign Fighter Task Force, commissioned in March by Chairman McCaul, was formed in response to the evolving threat posed by extremists fighting overseas. The six-month review was the most comprehensive, public assessment of U.S. government efforts to counter terrorist travel since the 9/11 Commission’s final report. It included 16 member briefings and site visits, 29 staff briefings, and travel to 6 foreign countries, including Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Germany, Belgium and France.
“The United States lacks a comprehensive plan to address the threat of foreign fighters,” continued Katko, “As we move forward to implement the findings of this report, it is critical that we focus on boosting global intelligence measures, producing an updated national strategy, halting the online recruitment of Americans by terrorist groups, and encouraging more efficient information sharing between state, local and federal law enforcement.”
“I commend Congressman Katko for leading the Task Force on this serious homeland security issue, a grave and growing threat from foreign fighters,” said Chairman Michael McCaul (TX-10). “Sadly, global efforts have failed to stop the flow of these aspiring jihadists into Syria, and we have already seen ‘returnees’ from the conflict zone come home to America and Europe and plot acts of terror. Even more, those still on the battlefield are radicalizing their peers online and inciting them to launch homegrown attacks. In light of the Task Force’s findings, I urge American leaders to develop a strategy to combat terrorist and foreign fighter travel and eliminate the ISIS threat."
Among the findings, the report shows that gaping security weaknesses overseas—especially in Europe—are putting the U.S. homeland in danger by making it easier for foreign fighters to migrate to terrorist hotspots and for jihadists to return to the West.
Key findings include:
- Despite concerted efforts to stem the flow, the U.S. government has largely failed to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists. Of the hundreds of Americans who have sought to travel to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq, authorities have only interdicted a fraction of them.
- The U.S. government lacks a national strategy for combating terrorist travel and has not produced one in nearly a decade.
- Gaping security weaknesses overseas—especially in Europe—are putting the U.S. homeland in danger by making it easier for aspiring foreign fighters to migrate to terrorist hotspots and for jihadists to return to the West.
Katko concluded, “Combating this ever-evolving terrorist threat will require a smart, coordinated, and international effort. I thank Chairman McCaul and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their commitment to this long-term fight.”
The full report can be found here.
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and a portion of Oswego County. For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.