Some good news ... finally. The House has approved a bill that would allow passports to be stripped from American citizens who join ISIS or any other terrorist group. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, sponsor of the bill, had the best defense for the measure: "These Benedict Arnold traitors joining the ranks of foreign terrorist armies should not be allowed to come back to America unless they come back in handcuffs. We must stop these killers from coming back to the United States to do harm to Americans."
By Charles Hoskinson
The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday unanimously approved three bills designed to aid the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including one that would allow the State Department to revoke the passports of U.S. citizens who join the group or any other terrorist organization.
"These Benedict Arnold traitors joining the ranks of foreign terrorist armies should not be allowed to come back to America unless they come back in handcuffs," said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, sponsor of the bipartisan measure.
"We must stop these killers from coming back to the United States to do harm to Americans."
The bipartisan legislation aims to stem the flow of Americans to the Islamic State and make it harder for them to return home to commit terror attacks.
The terrorist group's mastery of social media has allowed it to continue to get foreign recruits, in spite of a months-long bombing campaign and international efforts to stem the flow.
More than 20,000 foreign fighters have made their way to Syria to join the Islamic State, most of them through Turkey, Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the House Homeland Security Committee in February. That figure includes at least 3,400 Westerners, among them more than 150 Americans, he said, with even more trying to join the jihadist group that controls substantial areas of Iraq and Syria.
The panel also approved a bill that would speed congressional review of arms sales to Jordan, an issue that cropped up after the Islamic State executed a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot in February, highlighting the group's threat to the longtime U.S. ally. Later that month, during a visit by King Abdullah II, President Obama pledged an additional $1 billion in loan guarantees on top of the $1 billion the U.S. provides annually to Jordan, but speedier deliveries of arms required congressional action.
"Jordan has done a great job of taking the fight to [the Islamic State], but the kingdom needs more resources," said the bill's sponsor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
A third bill, sponsored by ranking Democrat Eliot Engel of New York, would strengthen U.S. efforts to prevent the Islamic State's looting of artifacts from Syria by allowing tighter restrictions on imports of such items.
Engel noted that the United States has taken the lead in the past to protect cultural heritage worldwide and must step up to face the critical threat from the Islamic State to priceless historical treasures in Syria and Iraq.
"Today, [the Islamic State] is trying to erase history," he said.