Friday, March 04, 2016
Billy Long: I will work to keep Islamic terrorists off American soil
Currently, due to the rise of groups like ISIS, the United States is under the highest Islamist terror threat since 9/11 and is losing the fight to stop Westerners from joining jihadists overseas. Despite this increasing threat, the current administration still has yet to formulate a plan for depleting the number of terrorist travelers moving unchecked from terrorist safe havens across America and the Western world.
The House Committee on Homeland Security reported recently that we are unmistakably in the midst of the largest global convergence of jihadists in history, with more than 30,000 people traveling to conflict zones in Syria attempting to join radical Islamists. An estimated 6,600 of them were Westerners, including more than 250 Americans. Furthermore, reports show that nearly 2,000 of these fighters were able to return to Europe after traveling to these terrorist strongholds.
Already, ISIS maintains core bases in Mosul, Iraq, Raqqa, and across Syria. It also controls about 70 miles of terrain near Syria’s border with Turkey and 150 miles of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline – which is the same distance as the stretch of Highway 71 between Joplin and Kansas City, MO. Now, with the influx of their sympathizers spanning more than 100 nations globally, ISIS has been active in planning terrorist attacks and will be well poised to strike us at home if we don’t plan to stamp out their mobile network.
As of this March, there have been 81 total ISIS-linked arrests in America, and 21 known ISIS-linked plots to carry out attacks on American soil. Six of these arrests were made in the past two months and two of them halted plans to attack a church in Michigan and a Masonic temple in Wisconsin. Even more troublingly, a U.S. intelligence official confirmed that 6,600 suspected ISIS fighters have obtained Western passports – granting them access to America without a visa.
Last December, Congress took hardline measures to protect America from terrorist travelers from trying to enter our country through immigration screening loopholes or falsely as displaced refugees. Unfortunately, the current presidential administration has not placed equal priority on Congress’ grave homeland security concerns. Still, the White House has yet to produce a comprehensive plan for rooting out terrorists and foreign fighters.
This February, however, Congress took the lead on protecting our nation from incoming foreign fighters once again, and passed legislation to improve screening of people who’ve traveled to terrorist hot-spots. Together, the “National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act,” the “Foreign Fighter Review Act,” and the “Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Reform and Improvement Act” demand that the White House develop a definitive national strategy to combat terrorist travel, that it diligently review data on people who would travel to or from the U.S. in support of Iraqi or Syrian terrorist groups, and that the TSA undergo a streamlining process for increased screening efficiency.
These bills are critical to ensuring that such a strategy will be formulated, and ensuring that screening measures are thorough enough to suppress this Islamist influx in the meantime. Going forward, I will continue to fight in Congress to make sure that these Islamist radicals are defeated, and are unable to gain unfettered access to American soil. We cannot sit back and allow the threat of these foreign fighters passing freely to their target destinations go unresolved.