The U.S. and its allies are making progress in the fight against foreign terrorist fighters, thanks in part to the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 last year.
But in remarks to the UN Security Council Interior Ministerial on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson cautioned that much more work needs to be done to fulfill the provisions of Resolution 2178. This includes criminalizing foreign terrorist fighters travel, attempted travel, and certain forms of support; adopting effective border controls and issuing secure travel documents; expanding criminal investigations and prosecutions; and countering violent extremism.
In recent years, there has been an unprecedented flow of foreign terrorist fighters to conflict zones. More than 22,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 100 nations have traveled to Syria since the beginning of the conflict there, including at least 4,000 from the West. More than 180 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria.
As the U.S. aggressively pursues counterterrorism investigations at home, it is eager to assist its international partners in doing the same by providing technical assistance. Many countries still need to strengthen their legal systems by criminalizing the intent to travel as foreign terrorist fighters to commit terrorist acts.
It is essential for countries to cooperate more in the areas of border security, including security at airports, and information sharing.
It is essential for countries to cooperate more in the areas of border security, including security at airports, and information sharing. It provides the basis for countries to work together to counter the movement of foreign terrorist fighters or their supporters and their financiers. To help with this task, the Department of Homeland Security within the next year, through its Customs and Border Protection component, will be developing a new passenger data screening and analysis system. This Global Travel Assessment System will be made available at no cost to the international community – for both commercial and government organizations.
While the threat of foreign terrorist fighters remains a daunting challenge, said Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, "I remain optimistic and encouraged by the cooperation of UN Member States to detect and defeat today’s enemies of peace, security and decency."