Wolf Offers Bill To Limit Travel To Syria
Mar 12, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today introduced legislation aimed at preventing terrorist groups operating in Syria from helping to radicalize Americans by restricting unsanctioned travel to Syria by U.S. citizens and prohibiting material support to groups in the war-torn country.
The International Conflicts of Concern Act would give the president authority to restrict travel and material support to countries like Syria, where foreign terrorist organizations are active in fighting and may be working with government or anti-government forces.
Once designated as a “Country of Conflict Concern,” travel and material support would be subject to licenses approved by the Treasury Department, similar to what is currently done for countries under sanctions by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Violations would be subject to both civil and criminal penalties, including up to a 20 year prison sentence.
Under the bill, Syria would automatically be “designated” for one year and would be subject to annual renewals by the president until the threat is reduced.
Wolf introduced the bill in response to concerns raised by the U.S. intelligence community and federal law enforcement in recent hearings as well as press reports regarding the threat to the homeland from U.S. nationals who have traveled to Syria to fight and may have become radicalized.
In January, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee that terrorist groups operating in Syria “have aspirations for attacks on the homeland,” and indicated that intelligence agencies are aware of “training complexes” within Syria “to train people to go back to their home countries and conduct terrorist acts, so this is a huge concern.”
In February, Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that there are “7,500 or so” foreign fighters in Syria from 50 countries. There have been media reports that that number includes at least 50 Americans.
“This bill is a smart, targeted tool for the U.S. to prevent radicalization of U.S. nationals and keep our homeland safe,” Wolf said. “It’s necessary because it is currently difficult for law enforcement to determine whether U.S. nationals returning from Syria under questionable circumstances were involved in fighting and working with foreign terrorist groups.”