"Today we are witnessing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history, as individuals from more than 100 countries have migrated to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq since 2011.1 Some initially flew to the region to join opposition groups seeking to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, but most are now joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), inspired to become a part of the group’s ‘‘caliphate’’ and to expand its repressive society. Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined or attempted to fight with extremists in the conflict zone.
These fighters pose a serious threat to the United States and its
allies. Armed with combat experience and extremist connections,
many of them are only a plane-flight away from our shores. Even
if they do not return home to plot attacks, foreign fighters have
taken the lead in recruiting a new generation of terrorists and are
seeking to radicalize Westerners online to spread terror back home.
TASK FORCE ON COMBATING TERRORIST AND FOREIGN FIGHTER TRAVEL
Responding to the growing threat, the House Committee on
Homeland Security established the Task Force on Combating Terrorist
and Foreign Fighter Travel in March 2015. Chairman Michael
McCaul and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson appointed a
bipartisan group of eight lawmakers charged with reviewing the
threat to the United States from foreign fighters, examining the
Government’s preparedness to respond to a surge in terrorist travel,
and providing a final report with findings and recommendations
to address the challenge. Members and staff also assessed security
measures in other countries, as U.S. defenses depend partly on
whether foreign governments are able to interdict extremists before
they reach our shores..."
Terrorist and foriegn fighters