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FBI Official: ISIS Foreign Fighter Travel ‘Not Even Close to Being Under Control’

FBI Counterterrorism Division Assistant Director Michael Steinbach said that the problem of ISIS foreign fighter travel is “not even close to being under control” before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

Steinbach stated that “foreign fighter travel, travel to a conflict zone in support of terrorist organization is against the law. So, the FBI has the lead on that. The question is when you look at the broken travel…when you look at the ways to legitimate citizens travelling abroad is not something that we choose to curtail. So, if you take travel to destinations like Europe, where you can then take [unintelligible] down to Turkey, so it’s more about identifying the multitude of ways that these individuals in the US are committed to travel using a good investigative processes, are they going to Canada, are they going down to Mexico, how are they getting to, how are they using lawful process, lawful ways to get to these locations. So, it’s not the function of not having the tools, they have just as much creativity as we do and they’ve got a lot of support. So they reach out on social media, on platforms and talk to people who have done it and made it and then follow the travel routes, so we’ve to stay on top of that and use tripwires, the intelligence community, the 17,000 state, local, and tribal and law enforcement agencies to develop an understanding of what the landscape is.”

He then added, “we don’t have it under control. Absolutely, we’re doing the best we can. If I were to say that we had it under control, then I would say I knew of every single individual traveling, I don’t, and I don’t know every person there, and I don’t know everyone coming back. So, it’s not even close to being under control. It continues to be a challenge. We have to creatively, as Frank said, think outside the box, to figure out how to combat this, and we spend a lot of time figuring this out, looking this over, trying to develop processes, databases, automated searches to work this problem.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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