- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Obama administration has largely failed to stop more than 250 Americans from traveling overseas since 2011 to join — or attempt to join — terrorist groups like the Islamic State, said a new congressional report released on Tuesday.

Lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee commissioned the six-month review to assess the severity of the threat from those leaving the U.S. to join jihadist groups and identify potential security gaps. 

“The findings are concerning; we are losing in this struggle to keep Americans from the battlefield,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said after his committee released the 65-page report.

Of the hundreds of Americans who have sought to travel to Syria and Iraq, authorities have only interdicted a fraction of them, the report said. 

The report did not provide details on the several dozen who have made their way back into the U.S. without being arrested or monitored. 

“Sadly, global efforts have failed to stop the flow of these aspiring jihadists into Syria, and we have already seen ‘returnees’ from the conflict zone come home to America and Europe and plot acts of terror,” Mr. McCaul said in a statement. “Even more, those still on the battlefield are radicalizing their peers online and inciting them to launch homegrown attacks.”

The report found that the U.S. lacks a national strategy for combating terrorist travel and has not produced one in nearly a decade. 

In addition, security weaknesses overseas — especially in Europe — are putting the U.S. homeland in danger by making it easier for aspiring foreign fighters to migrate to terrorist hotspots and for jihadists to return to the west, the report found. 

Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican who helped author the report, said radicalization of Americans over the Internet “poses probably the biggest problem” for U.S. law enforcement and others trying to detect and combat efforts by international terrorist organization to recruit U.S. citizens to join the fight overseas.

“As we move forward to implement the findings of this report, it is critical that we focus on boosting global intelligence measures, producing an updated national strategy, halting the online recruitment of Americans by terrorist groups, and encouraging more efficient information sharing between state, local and federal law enforcement,” Mr. Katko said in a statement. 

Mr. Katko said the committee will work to draft several pieces of legislation based on the report’s 32 recommendations, The Associated Press reported. 

Shortly after the congressional report was released, the State Department announced that 10 people and five groups were declared Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

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