WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) joined the members of the Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States Thursday for a hearing examining the current terror threat landscape, how the movement of terrorists out of the conflict zone will affect the security of the homeland, and what additional measures the U.S. can take to mitigate the threat.
“The fight against terrorism is one with no battlefield. As an FBI special agent, I’ve seen the threats posed by hostile actors determined to leave traditional conflict areas and attack civilians in their hometowns, at their places of work or worship,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s crucial Congress understands the current terror threat landscape, how this ‘terrorist diaspora’ affects the security of the homeland and Western nations, and what additional measures the U.S. can take to address this threat from crossing our borders.”
As ISIS continues to experience battle field losses in Iraq and Syria, experts believe there already is and will continue to be a “terrorist diaspora” from the conflict zone. As part of this diaspora, foreign fighters will spread across the globe, with some traveling to new conflict zones while others return to their countries of origin. Terrorists, including foreign fighter returnees, have already shown the ability to strike the West, especially Europe, carrying out attacks at an unprecedented pace in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium, among other countries.
Dr. Colin P. Clarke, political scientist at the RAND Corporation, said it is crucial to address the scattering of fighters from the traditional battlefield and work to protect the homeland.
“ISIS is hemorrhaging territory, its financing continues to be degraded, and popular support for the group has diminished greatly. For months, ISIS fighter have been reinfiltrating towns and villages… that were thought to have been cleared. Furthermore, it is likely that hundred of militants, including many foreign fighters, have already scattered elsewhere and are preparing to continue waging jihad in another theater,” said Clarke.
“The foreign fighter phenomenon is likely to worsen in the future as the caliphate continues to deteriorate. These fighters can now engage in foreign civil wars and insurgencies – and export their expertise back to their home countries or to places they have newly immigrated. Accordingly, the United States must continue to allocate sufficient resources to preventing foreign terrorist fighters from attempting to sneak into the country. This includes not only a stout defense of America’s borders, but also intelligence sharing with allies overseas, including European allies.”
Other witnesses testifying before the Task Force - Thomas Joscelyn , Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Robin Simcox, Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation – agreed to the importance of working with European nations and some unconventional allies to support vital information sharing.