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September 29, 2015

Committee Unveils Foreign Fighter Task Force's Final Report

(WASHINGTON) – The Homeland Security Committee’s bipartisan Foreign Fighter Task Force released its final report at a press conference today. 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.

As world leaders meet at the United Nations today to discuss the foreign fighter threat, the Committee presented 32 key findings and 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:

  • Despite concerted efforts to stem the flow, we have 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.

“The alarming threat of extremist ideology possibly influencing foreign fighters is very apparent in today’s world,” said Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS). “The Task Force's report is a step in stemming this trend – it outlines specific findings and sets up a path for us to address them going forward. The Task Force has found that although there are serious government efforts to address the radicalization of foreign fighters, there is much more we can do in terms of sharing information with our international partners, assisting law enforcement, and bolstering community awareness. This report is the result of six months of detailed work on addressing this threat, and I want to thank the bipartisan group of task force members for completing it.”

“It is clear that our nation faces a grave and growing threat from foreign fighters,” said Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). “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. I commend the Task Force for their work on this serious homeland security dilemma, and in light of their findings, I urge world leaders at the United Nations to redouble their efforts to combat terrorist 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). “It is clear that this is an uncontainable threat that must be confronted. 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. Combating this ever-evolving terrorist threat will require a smart, coordinated, and international effort, and I thank Chairman McCaul and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their commitment to this long-term fight.” 

“The Task Force’s report was done in a bipartisan manner and provides bipartisan proposals,” said Democratic Lead, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). “These are real threats, requiring real solutions and commitments. Moving forward, it is critical that we continue to tackle this problem together in order to facilitate action and progress.”

The full report is available here.
A summary of the report is available here. 

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Majority: Susan Phalen at 202-226-8417
Minority: Adam Comis at 202-225-9978