The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is concerned that a wave of attacks by jihadis with American passports could occur in the Unites States in the near future.
“Our investigation will include how are we identifying Americans over there and how are we stopping the travel back into the United States,” McCaul told The Daily Caller. “In other words, how can we keep them off airplanes? Are we doing that adequately enough? We are doing it currently, but the question is how well and efficiently are we doing it?”
McCaul discussed the similarities to the terrorists with French citizenship who committed the deadly acts in Paris this week. He said, “They are different than the guys radicalizing over the internet. These are clearly foreign fighters trained and came back to Western Europe and France,” he said. “We’re very concerned about that happening in the United States. My committee is going to launch an investigation into foreign fighters so we can stop this from happening here in the United States.”
Similar to the French brothers who returned to their country after fighting with jihadis in Syria, numerous U.S. citizens found their way to Syria, for example, fought along side ISIS militants and later returned home.
“There is no legal impediment right now to returning to the United States. You’re subject to possible criminal charges, such as the Eric Harroun case. He had gone over and was fighting in Syria and linked up with Jabhat al Nusra, which is a designated terrorist organization and he came back and was charged,” Patrick Poole, a counter-terrorism and Middle-East expert told TheDC. “But they didn’t pick him up at the airport. It was weeks if not months afterward when he got charged, so that’s a real world example.”
Passports of those American citizens who fight overseas with terrorists are not revoked. Canada, on the other hand is revoking passports of their citizens who went overseas to fight with terrorist organizations.
“That’s insane. If they’re caught now they’ll be incarcerated. We should absolutely revoke their passports,” McCaul told TheDC.
A House bill designated to revoke the passports of U.S. citizens who went overseas to fight with jihadis was introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) last session, but the bill was never allowed to the floor and died in committee.
FBI director James Comey told 60 Minutes in October, “Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport’s revoked, is entitled to come back. So, someone who’s fought with ISIL, with American passport wants to come back, we will track them very carefully.”
In fact, according to Yahoo News, in the last 18 months not one returnee has been arrested – even clandestinely – on alleged charges of aiding terrorists or committing any other act of international terrorism. However, “a couple” were discretely charged for lying on travel forms, a federal source told ABC News.
However, Yahoo News notes, the FBI and Justice Department arrested at least nine people in the U.S. who allegedly attempted to join terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq. For the past 2 years the FBI investigated at least 40 Americans and half of those were under “full investigation” at one point, ABC News reported, revealing the FBI had discovered information about the suspect[s] – that may have shown the individual[s] posed a threat.
Comey claims only a dozen U.S. citizens went overseas to fight in Syria, but Poole does not buy that number.
“Last year we saw FBI officials go before Congress and say there were more than 100 people from the U.S. who were fighting in Syria. And then the FBI backtracked and said, ‘Oh, it’s probably no more than a dozen,’” said Poole.
He added, “About a half dozen Americans were killed last year, that we know of, fighting in Syria with terrorist organizations. So for them to say there were no more than a half dozen, nobody inside the security intel community believes that. We have evidence showing otherwise. Whereas countries like Belgium have hundreds that they know of and Canada, UK, France—they have hundreds of citizens [fighting with terrorists overseas in Syria], but somehow the United States is immune and we only have less than a dozen. It’s complete bull.”