………….Sadly, when we refuse to act, our nation’s future—and its fortunes—are put in the hands of rivals. The results are clear: today our allies no longer trust us, our adversaries no longer fear us, and our enemies are plotting against us.
But the American people have spoken, and last month they rejected “leading from behind” policies. Instead, they voted to put America first and to make our country safe again. President-Elect Donald Trump recognizes that if we do not shape the world around us, we will be shaped by it. That is why we need to project strength in order to protect our homeland.
We must immediately restore American power to deter our adversaries from taking advantage of us. We also cannot hesitate to advance U.S. interests abroad, nor should we apologize for it. While there is always a chance that our actions will cause backlash, it is guaranteed that inaction will cause the world to be more dangerous for America.
Finally, we must champion our ideals. As the President-Elect has said, American values are the bedrock of Western civilization, and we are safer in a world where those values are shared.
This idea——is rooted in a timeless principle advocated by President Ronald Reagan that the best way to achieve peace is through strength. House Republicans have laid out a bold agenda to do exactly that. It is called “A Better Way,” and beginning next month, we will work with President Trump to make it a reality and reverse the damage of the last eight years.
As we work to restore American greatness, we must remember: we are a nation at war. And our highest priority should be the clear and present danger posed by Islamist terror.
We made gains against these fanatics after 9/11. But radicalism struck back. And today, jihadists are harnessing the power of the internet to spread violence like wildfire. America’s enemies have more safe havens to plot from—and larger pools to recruit from—than anytime in modern history. Both ISIS and al Qaeda are working hard to dispatch fighters for external operations, and they are recruiting from within our borders.
In 2015, there was a 650 percent increase in fatal terrorist attacks in the West. Here in the United States, we tracked the highest number of homegrown jihadist plots ever in a single year, mostly tied to ISIS. The year wasn’t any better. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed or injured in terror attacks in Western countries. The violence has reached places like Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Nice, and here at home in Chattanooga, San Bernardino, and Orlando.
In September, I attended the annual 9/11 ceremony at Ground Zero with President-Elect Trump, Mayor Giuliani, and others. We talked about how much the threat has changed. Just a week later, a man detonated bombs in New York and New Jersey. He radicalized while living among us. And in his blood- stained journal, he cited inspiration from al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki and former ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
This is the new terror threat. Young jihadists are being radicalized online and urged to attack the kuffar—the non-believer—in their own backyard. Just last week, another ISIS-inspired terrorist launched a brutal attack on the campus of Ohio State University. He is one of more than 100 ISIS supporters that have been killed or captured in the United States while plotting in its name.
Only days ago, the group’s new spokesman urged followers to increase attacks against non-believers where they least expect it, “in their homes, markets, roads, and clubs.” Unfortunately, he may have receptive ears. The FBI has open terrorism investigations in all 50 States, most of which are connected with ISIS.
So how did we get to this point?
The answer is policy failure. For eight years, the Obama Administration reluctantly played global whack- a-mole with jihadists, rather than leaning into the fight with decisive leadership. They said terrorists were on the run when they were really on the rise. And they lacked moral clarity about the overall conflict, let alone a clear plan for victory.
Trump Administration inherits a counterterrorism policy in shambles and a generational struggle that is only getting longer.
However, I believe our new President is much more clear-eyed about the danger.
He knows we must define the threat to defeat it, as we did with fascism and communism. And in this ideological struggle against Islamist terrorism, Donald Trump is committed to winning. He understands that these fanatics have perverted a major religion into a weapon, and they are using it to target our way of life. While there were sharp disagreements in our presidential campaign, now is the time to come together as a nation to give the commander-in-chief an opportunity to turn the tide in the war.
We must also actively protect our homeland. In September, I released the first comprehensive counterterrorism strategy in years, with more than 100 recommendations for winning the fight, including here on the home front. Donald Trump has laid out serious plans to do the same. And I will work with him to implement the biggest domestic counterterrorism overhaul in a decade.
From a homeland security standpoint, the overhaul must have two main pillars. One is to start shutting down all terrorist pathways into the United States.
First, we must begin “extreme vetting” of foreign travelers. There are many ways to reach our shores, including as a tourist, student, immigrant, or refugee. Terrorists have exploited every single one of these routes, so we need to ramp up security for all of them.
My Committee already took a big first step. Last year, we passed a law blocking certain individuals from coming to the United States if they have recently traveled to a terrorist hotspot, unless they go through extra screening first. But we need to go further.
Anyone applying for a visa to our country should undergo a much more intensive, up-front background check. That is why I plan to revamp U.S. visa security and provide expanded authorities to our frontline investigators. We also need to bring security screening into the digital age by using social-media intelligence and new technology. In general, our goal should be to identify and exclude individuals who have ties to terror, who advocate Islamist extremism, or who support the overthrow of our government and Constitution.
Second, we should immediately suspend immigration from high-risk countries where we cannot confidently weed out terror suspects. This includes Syria.
Let me be clear: we are a compassionate nation, and we have a very proud tradition of welcoming refugees. But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our humanitarian efforts. We know for certain that groups like ISIS have already used refugee flows as a Trojan Horse to attack our allies in France and Germany. Top national security officials have told me—privately and publicly—that they are not confident in our ability to prevent terror operatives from infiltrating the Syrian refugee program. So until we get the right protections in place, it should be suspended.
Third, we need to push our defenses outward. It’s not enough to combat terrorist travel if our allies don’t do the same. Once a jihadist gets to Europe, he is only a plane-flight away from America. So we need to pressure foreign governments to step up, and we also need to help them. If we let the dark cloud of terror creep over Europe, we will be in greater danger, too. That is why I have called for a “Marshall Plan” for counterterrorism to help U.S. allies get better at finding, catching, and locking up jihadists.
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