Bob Goodlatte: ISIS in America

goodlattefourinWith increasing regularity, Americans are bearing witness to the depravity of terrorists claiming the mantle of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, but also sometimes referred to as ISIL. Relatively unknown to many in America just a few years ago, ISIS relishes in their own barbarity with videos depicting the murders of prisoners. As we have seen recently in Denmark, France, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, these terrorists are intent on destroying our way of life.

Americans are not mere observers of ISIS’s atrocities. Our people and our homeland are intimate parts of their plans. The organization’s leadership has called for attacks on America and the rest of the West. They have solicited young people to renounce their lives and join them. Unfortunately, even here in America these calls have found receptive ears. FBI Director James Comey has disclosed that the Bureau is investigating suspected supporters of ISIS in every U.S. state.

As these threats evolve domestically, so do the challenges our intelligence and law enforcement officials face in thwarting violent terrorists and those who pledge allegiance to them here in the United States. Just a few days ago, the House Judiciary Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on ISIS in America. At the hearing, members had the opportunity to further examine domestic terrorism, in particular the increasing threat posed by the Islamic State through the assassination of American captives, recruitment of American citizens, self-radicalization, and domestic terror plots.

Those who have taken up the ISIS banner fit no social, ethnic, or even gender profile. Douglas McAuthur McCain grew up in Chicago and Minneapolis with a close-knit family. He was a popular “joker” in high school and a devoted fan of the Chicago Bulls. Last summer, a tattoo of his was used to confirm him as the first American to be killed fighting for the terrorists in Syria. Young women are also being recruited to become “jihad wives” of ISIS fighters. Those who join are promised that they will be provided with education, health care, and other benefits. But these promises of a “Jihadi Utopia” don’t exist.

Regardless of whether these individuals make their way to Syria or are radicalized in front of a computer in the U.S., the threats they present are very real. Whether it be military force or counter-terrorism efforts in the U.S., it is important Congress know how to best ensure that our country is prepared to stop these threats. As Congress considers the way forward in combatting ISIS, we must remain vigilant against this real threat so that we protect Americans and our national security. The barbaric actions of ISIS reinforce how imperative it is that the United States continues our mission, in close cooperation with our allies, to dismantle and destroy ISIS.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.