Legislation Implements Foreign Fighter Task Force Recommendation to Enhance Response to Terrorism Threats, Harmonize U.S. Counterterrorism Programs
Washington, D.C. – Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) aimed at bolstering counterterrorism efforts in the United States overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives this evening. H.R. 4407, the Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2016, emerged as one of several recommendations released by the bipartisan Task Force on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel, which Rep. Katko chaired.
The legislation establishes a Counterterrorism Advisory Board (CTAB) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate and integrate departmental intelligence, activities, and policy related to counterterrorism. Initially established at the end of 2010, this panel brings together the top counterterrorism officials in DHS to respond to and preempt threats. However, the Task Force on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel found that the CTAB had neither been codified, nor had its charter kept pace with today’s evolving terrorist threats. Today’s legislation remedies that oversight and will help ensure that DHS is effectively integrating intelligence, operations, and policy to fight terrorism and is quickly exchanging threat information.
“The United States faces the highest threat level since 9/11—with open counterterrorism investigations in all 50 states and more than 80 ISIS-related arrests over the past two years. Combating global terrorism and foreign fighter travel requires a smart, coordinated, and collaborative effort,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko following the bill’s passage. “This bipartisan legislation implements one of the Foreign Fighter Task Force’s foremost recommendations and will help ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is acting efficiently and using every tool it has available to respond to terrorist threats and keep our country safe.”
The bill is Katko’s eleventh to pass the House since he was sworn in to represent Central New York in Congress in January 2015.
Specifically, this legislation:
- Updates the CTAB Charter to better enable it to confront tomorrow’s challengesand requires the Secretary to appoint a Coordinator for Counterterrorism to oversee the board’s activities.
- Requires the CTAB to advise the Secretary on the issuance of terrorism alerts, ensuring that top counterterrorism and intelligence officials play a key role in developing these critical notices to the public.
- Ensures continued Congressional oversight by requiring DHS to report on the status and activities of the CTAB so that we can be certain it is meeting its mandate.
The Task Force on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel released its final report in September 2015, including 50 recommendations for improving national security. To date, the House Homeland Security Committee has acted legislatively on nearly half.
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and the western portion of Oswego County.