Citing the recent wave of terrorist attacks across the globe and the pressing need to keep American families safe, Congressman Vern Buchanan is calling for passage of tough, new measures cracking down on money flowing to terrorist groups.
Buchanan said Tuesday Congress should pass “The National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act,” which directs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a comprehensive strategy to combat the financing of terrorism.
“We need to cut out the financial heart of the radical Islamic terrorists that have attacked our homeland and put our families at risk,” Buchanan said. “Congress must also hold Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, accountable. Our government cannot continue to allow U.S. dollars to end up in the hands of a regime responsible for inciting terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.”
With Buchanan’s strong support, the U.S. House recently passed several measures to stop funds from pouring into Iran and ensure that our country is prepared to stop terrorists from entering the homeland. These bills, now pending in the Senate, include:
— “The Iran Accountability Act of 2016” – imposes new sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and continuing to test its ballistic missile program – a violation of the nuclear deal agreed upon by the global community one year ago.
— “The U.S. Financial System Protection Act” – prohibits the Obama administration from allowing the U.S. dollar to be used to facilitate trade transactions with the Iranian government and Iranian banks.
— “Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act” – requires the Treasury Department to investigate how to incorporate U.S. embassies into counter-terrorism financing efforts, and adds the Secretary of the Treasury to the National Security Council.
— “The Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act” – requires the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an exercise to evaluate national preparedness against terrorist travel to the United States. The last major government exercise on terrorist travel was in 2009.
“Terrorists want to destroy our way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our government must do everything possible to stop them. Cutting off cash to ISIS and the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism – Iran – will undoubtedly limit their ability to attack the U.S. and its allies.”
Since declaring a caliphate more than two years ago, ISIS and its followers have carried out horrific terrorist attacks across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the U.S., including in Buchanan’s home state of Florida. Last month a gunman killed 49 people in Orlando after pledging allegiance to ISIS.
The Obama administration has repeatedly maintained that its strategy against ISIS is working. President Obama recently said that as a result of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS’s oil infrastructures the terrorist organization continues to lose money that is its “lifeblood.”
However last month, CIA Director John Brennan delivered a chilling testimony before Congress contradicting the administration’s assessment. Brennan said ISIS generates “at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue per month, primarily from taxation and from crude oil sales.”
The recent onslaught of ISIS-inspired attacks in Nice, Istanbul, Bangladesh, and Brussels have left many Americans anxious about the group’s capability to infiltrate U.S. borders. According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted last month, Americans are more likely to think terrorist attacks in the U.S. are imminent now than at any point since 2003.
Buchanan said the House-passed “Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act” will help the U.S. gauge its ability to prevent terrorists from traveling into and out of the country.
“Any gaps in our nation’s security systems must be made known and fixed immediately,” Buchanan said. “This legislation is critical to making the U.S. impenetrable for ISIS and other terrorists.”
Buchanan is the author of federal legislation to require social media screening for signs of terror threats from any foreigner who wants to enter America. His “Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act” directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country. Buchanan has also called on government leaders to develop a strategy to combat terror groups’ online recruitment and radicalization.