Saturday, December 12, 2015
Billy Long tells how we can beat ISIS
Tallies show that since October 10th of this year, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its sympathizers have killed at least 525 people in six attacks across six different countries. To say that this development is of great concern would be a huge understatement. I, of course, have been inundated with lots of calls asking what the American government is doing to shut it down.
The House Committee on Homeland Security has recently released alarming reports showing that we are in fact seeing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history. It showed that our efforts to stop this flow have been largely unsuccessful. Since 2011, more than 25,000 people from over 100 countries have traveled to join with ISIS. This accounts for 4,500 westerners and more than 250 from the United States.
The study also found that there are major global communication weaknesses in the fight to combat these jihadists moving around the world. It cited that security weaknesses in other continents – especially Europe – make it easier for aspiring foreign fighters to migrate, make information sharing among terrorist target countries remains unorganized, and show that terrorist strategies are quickly adapting to evade detection during travel.
This is a multifaceted problem that demands domestic and international combative cooperation. We must immediately eliminate ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq. In the long run, we must be prepared to root-out the growth of global terrorist sanctuaries.
In Congress, we have already begun producing legislation and ideas to ensure foreign fighters and members of radical Islamic groups cannot slip into the U.S. undetected. Shortly after the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, I voted with the House to improve federal refugee screening processes. Most recently, the House also passed a bill to address vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Now, travelers from VWP participant countries can be denied entry if they’ve recently traveled to terrorist hotspots – like Iraq and Syria – and VWP governments are required to share counterterrorism information more openly. Ensuring that these programs don’t turn into easy entrance fast-tracks for foreign fighter travelers is a great first step but it’s not enough.
Moving forward, it’s important for the U.S. to develop a definitive national strategy for blocking terrorist transit. We must launch a complete review of all cases where Americans traveled to Syria and Iraq to join terror groups, as to learn what we can to prevent additional citizen enlistment with radicalized Islamic groups. The international community can also work to make INTERPOL a central repository for foreign fighter identities, and encourage all other countries with foreign fighter data to share it with American authorities. On a local level, we should also be incentivizing state level law enforcement to aid in counterterrorism efforts and encourage community members to report suspicious activity without fear of repudiation.
Already, too many lives have been taken by ISIS sympathizers’ horrific attacks across the world and here at home. We will overcome this threat, but it will require that our nation begin taking the necessary domestic actions to do so and a global call-to-action among all freedom-loving nations to do so. I will continue doing everything in my power to ensure that these radicals are defeated and keep our citizens safe.