Washington: Nearly 30,000 foreigners have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join jihadists since 2011 and the United States is failing to stop Americans from heading overseas to join them, a report warned today.
The document describes a national security infrastructure that is ill-equipped to deal with the myriad ways foreign jihadists contact and recruit Americans.
“The US government lacks a national strategy for combating terrorist travel and has not produced one in nearly a decade,” states the report, which was compiled by a task force for the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.
“The unprecedented speed at which Americans are being radicalized by violent extremists is straining federal law enforcement’s ability to monitor and intercept suspects,” the report said.
Additionally, law enforcement tools haven’t kept pace with technological shifts, as jihadist recruiters increasingly use secure websites and apps to communicate with Americans — making it harder for law enforcement to disrupt plots and terrorist travel.
The report states that some of the foreign fighters that flew to Syria initially did so to help oust President Bashar al-Assad, “but most are now joining the Islamic State (group), inspired to become a part of the group’s ‘caliphate’ and to expand its repressive society.”
The foreign fighters that have enlisted with Islamist jihadist groups include at least 4,500 Westerners, the report states.
Of that number, more that 250 Americans have joined or tried to fight with IS jihadists.
The task force report presents dozens of key findings and recommendations, and calls for an overview of the US strategy to combat terrorist travel, as well better intelligence sharing domestically and with other countries.
The report also blasts security weaknesses overseas, especially in Europe.
“Pervasive overseas security gaps make it easier for aspiring foreign fighters to travel to terrorist hotspots — and increase the odds that trained jihadists will be able to travel to America undetected,” the report states.