The terrorist attacks in Paris last month, which killed over 120 and left hundreds injured, as well as the recent shooting killing 14 in San Bernardino, California, serve as a sobering reminder of the threat of ISIS across the globe.
To mitigate ISIS’ increasing influence, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) sponsored legislation to defeat ISIS abroad while enhancing efforts to protect Americans from terrorism at home.
S.2377, introduced by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Thursday, is based on proposals from Senate national security committees, including provisions drafted by Carper. The bill is also sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-Was.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-RI) , Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
“As the recent tragedy in California underscores, one of the greatest threats we face is homegrown terrorism and self-radicalization,” Carper said in a statement. “That’s why we must also work to destroy ISIS’s influence by countering their twisted message and inoculating against its efforts to radicalize our own people here in the United States.”
Carper added, “We must also strengthen our aviation security, enhance the capabilities of our first responders, and ensure that radiological material here at home does not end up in the hands of a terrorist. This bill will give the Administration the authorities and guidance they need to help destroy this threat and better secure our homeland.”
Carper’s provisions in S.2377 would establish the Office of Community Partnerships in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reach out and educate communities on terrorist efforts to radicalize and recruit disenfranchised youth. The bill would also strengthen airport security by increasing the screening of airport employees, ensure radiological material in the US does not end up in the hands of terrorists, and support first responders with better training and tools.
Overall, S.2377 would:
Defeat ISIS Abroad
- Create a new ISIS “czar” who would lead and coordinate the United States’ military and diplomatic efforts to defeat ISIS.
- Cut off ISIS’ access to money by imposing tough new sanctions on financial institutions if they knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS.
- Intensify airstrikes on ISIS strongholds and oil supplies.
- Increase support for local forces fighting ISIS on the ground.Create a new stabilization fund for Jordan and Lebanon to help those fleeing the conflict in Syria stay in the region, closer to their own homes.
- Confirm key national security positions necessary to fighting ISIS, such as Adam Szubin as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department.
- Improve intelligence sharing with our allies and partners.
- Improve migrant screening in Europe.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy to counter ISIS propaganda and counter violent-extremism.
Keep America Safe
- Strengthen the Visa Waiver Program by requiring the universal use of machine-readable, electronic passports in order to participate in the program.
- Close the terrorist gun loophole which would stop individuals who are known or suspected terrorists from purchasing a gun.
- Strengthen aviation security by improving screening technology and Transportation Security Officers training, including tougher vetting and oversight of aviation workers and secure areas within airports.
- Lock down “dirty bomb” materials by requiring the federal government to issue a strategy for locking down the highest risk radiological material in our hospitals and industrial sites.
- Authorize and support a new office at DHS dedicated to stopping homegrown extremism.
- Study ways in which US law can improve our ability to intercept terrorist communications.
- Help state and local law enforcement train and properly respond to an active shooter attack by authorizing new grants to fund these types of training exercises.
In addition to providing provisions to S.2377, Carper introduced his own bill, Community Partnership Act of 2015 (S. 2369) as companion legislation to S.2377. The bill aims to combat the efforts by terrorist groups to radicalize American citizens to carry out attacks on the homeland.
“The best way to combat the threat of ISIS across the globe is to continue to degrade and destroy their forces overseas and show the world that they are not as powerful as they claim to be,” Carper said. “Our success will not only rob them of their safe haven in the Middle East, but also undercut their recruitment narrative that ‘ISIS is on the rise.’”
Carper continued, “While the international coalition in the fight against ISIS continues to make progress dismantling and degrading the terrorist group, we must also focus on defeating the threat ISIS and other terrorist groups pose here at home.”
The Community Partnership Act of 2015 would:
- Authorize the Office of Community Partnerships to make it the focal point of all of DHS’s activities to counter violent extremism.
- Establish an Assistant Secretary for Community Partnerships who will directlyreport to the Secretary of Homeland Security on the Department’s progress toward ending the recruitment of Americans by terrorist groups.
- Charge the office with alerting communities to the dangers of violent terrorist groups like ISIS and their online recruitment and radicalization strategies.
- Create a grant program that will help empower community groups, local leaders, religious leaders and non-profits to engage in activity that will promote tolerance, counter the narratives proffered by terrorist groups like ISIS, and help to prevent at-risk youths in our communities from falling prey to the lure of ISIS and other terrorists group’s recruitment propaganda.