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Helping Stop the Movement of Foreign Fighters Abroad

March 28, 2016
Press Release
Op-ed Written by Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-1)

Too often in today’s world, we are reminded globally that we must all do more to protect the innocent and defeat those who threaten peace in the name of Islam. The recent terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium, that left over 30 people dead and over 300 wounded, is one more brutal reminder that the threat posed by Islamic terror groups is not just a threat to the Middle East - it’s a threat that is growing all around the world. 

Just hours before the attack in Brussels, the House passed my Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016 (H.R. 4314) with strong bipartisan support in a 371-2 vote. In the wake of the attack, I've been continuing the push to advance my bill to help stop foreign fighter travel to protect America’s security at home and abroad. Stopping foreign fighter movement is a top effort of mine and must be a highest priority for our country. 

Foreign fighter movement is a very serious challenge. The horrific terror attack in Paris, France that killed over 100 people was largely carried out by European nationals - many of whom traveled to train and fight in Syria and then later returned to Europe and were able to move across borders without detection. This is why we need improved border security globally and better information sharing between governments.

Under my bill, international border security standards would be established to close security gaps that currently exist that allow foreign fighters to travel internationally. Another important component of my bill is that it would ensure U.S. resources are utilized in the most efficient way possible, focusing on high-risk and medium-risk countries to boost security, while also putting in place a reporting system that would monitor the efforts of foreign governments to combat terrorism and foreign fighter travel. Foreign assistance would be suspended for countries that do not make significant efforts to comply.

The recent terrorist attacks in Brussels remind us that we must confront ISIS' unlimited ambition with our unlimited resolve. There is no limit to the desire terror groups like ISIS have in waging violent jihad against us. This is an unconventional fight and a never before been read chapter that must end with the cancer boldly, aggressively attacked with unlimited determination and resources from a global community that will not be run out of existence by those who terrorize the innocent.

The Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act is a bipartisan measure to keep Americans safe that was long overdue to not only protect our homeland from terrorism, but also ensure the that we as a country are always prepared to combat the spread of any infectious diseases. Under my bill, a monitoring system would be put in place to screen for infectious diseases to contain and prevent any potential outbreaks. Under my bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security would be authorized to provide the necessary equipment and supplies to mitigate the risk or threat of infectious diseases, which will help quarantine viruses, such as Zika, a disease that continues to spread and was recently declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization.

There are many facets to this effort and stopping the movement of terrorists is essential. Whether we are helping stop the movement of foreign fighters or boosting intelligence and military capabilities wherever appropriate and necessary, America and our allies must win each day on behalf of our families, our countries and the free world. I will continue pushing to advance my Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act until it is signed into law.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.