WASHINGTON: The government has largely failed to stop more than 250 Americans who have traveled overseas to join or tried to join terrorist groups, including the Islamic State group, a new congressional study concluded on Tuesday. It did not cite significant numbers who have sneaked back into the United States without being arrested or monitored.
The report by five Republicans and three Democrats from the House Homeland Security Committee said the Obama administration lacked a strategy to prevent such travel abroad, identify all who try to return to commit terror attacks, or cope with new recruitment practices and technology that allow extremists to communicate securely.
“Of the hundreds of Americans who have sought to travel to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq, authorities have only interdicted a fraction of them,” the report said. “Several dozen have also managed to make it back into America.” It noted that several people were identified and arrested this year trying to return to the United States.
The report said a particular concern was western Europeans who travel to Iraq or Syria and would be permitted to fly to the U.S. without applying for a visa.
“American returnees are not the only threat to the United States,” it said.