Letter from U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to GLOBALO-Founder Hubertus Hoffmann from January 14, 2016:
“Thank you for contacting me regarding the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you know, ISIL has been responsible for countless atrocities in Iraq and Syria, killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children, including American citizens. Outside of Iraq and Syria, the group has proven capable of organizing and inspiring attacks on innocent civilians.
As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I understand that the threat posed by ISIL is real.
U.S. military forces have conducted devastating airstrikes against ISIL targets, and the Department of Defense is deploying Special Operations forces to improve the effectiveness of our operations. Additionally, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. servicemembers have worked to build the capability and capacity of Iraqi Security Forces as well as opposition forces like the moderate Syrian rebels and Kurdish Peshmerga so they can take responsibility for their own security and eliminate the treated posed by ISIL. As a result of our efforts, and those of our coalition partners, ISIL has lost territory, key leaders, and critical funding streams.
In the wake of terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, I believe it is critical to ensure that we have an effective screening process for everyone that wants to come to this country.
As you may know, the Paris attacks were conducted by French and Belgian nationals who, prior to the attack, may have been eligible for entry to our country as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The VWP allows passport holders from 38 countries to go through an alternative electronic screening process in order to obtain approval to travel to the United States without a visa for up to 90 days. While the electronic screening system reviews the same biographical information databases as are used for tourist visa applications, it has become clear that the system needs additional enhancements.
To address these issues, I cosponsored S.2337, the Visa Waiver Program Security Enhancement Act. This bipartisan legislation would modify the VWP to provide for additional security screening and ensure any foreign individual who has traveled to Iraq or Syria in the past five years cannot participate in the VWP.
Additionally, it requires anyone who wants to participate in the VWP to have an e-passport, a tamperproof passport embedded with biometric information. The bill also requires increased coordination with participating countries through information sharing agreements on terrorism and lost and stolen travel documents.
ISIL is a despicable organization bent on undertaking a campaign of indiscriminate murder and terror.
As Americans we must recognize that there is a significant difference between those who use an extreme and warped understanding of Islam to justify their actions and the millions of Muslims who choose to live peacefully as productive members of society.
Religious freedom is a cornerstone value of the United States of America, established through the remarkable sensibility and foresight of our nation’s founding fathers to protect that freedom for all Americans.
Respect for all religions remains monumentally important to our nation today and is a value we should continue to promote worldwide.
I remain committed to eliminating the threat posed by ISIL.
As the United States works with our partners and allies to respond to the threat posed by these militants, I will continue to listen to military leaders and review intelligence to ensure that any U.S. action strengthens US national security interests.”
Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri is a senior member of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. Member Democratic Party.