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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

House committee advances bill to combat international foreign terrorist fighter travel

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade recently advanced legislation that aims to establish international border security standards to close security gaps that could potentially allow foreign terrorist fighters to travel internationally.

Authored by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act also seeks to establish international border security standards that would be developed in conjunction with all relevant U.S. government departments and agencies in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Director of the FBI.

A Senate version of the bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

If enacted, U.S. resources would be utilized with a focus on high- and medium-risk countries as a target for scrutiny. A formalized reporting system would also be implemented to monitor efforts of foreign governments to combat extremist fighters and to suspend assistance to countries that are not making sufficient efforts to comply.

“Foreign fighter movement is a very serious challenge that has resulted in the well-recognized need for improved border security around the world and better information sharing between governments,” Zeldin said. “With the rise of terrorism at home and around the world, it is important now more than ever, that we remain ever vigilant to protect our homeland.”

The bill also includes a monitoring system that would screen for infectious diseases to contain potential outbreaks, such as Zika virus or dengue fever.

A previous version of Zeldin’s bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th Congress by a vote of 371-2. However, the legislation did not ultimately receive consideration by the Senate at that time.