THE THREAT OF TERRORISM IS STILL VERY PRESENT; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 201
(Extensions of Remarks - December 20, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1715]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                              HON. TED POE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 20, 2018

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the long war on terrorism is not over. 
From North Africa to Southeast Asia, radical jihadism fights on from 
the shadows, waiting for us to grow complacent once again. We have 
claimed victory and lowered our guard too many times before only to 
have terrorist groups grow resurgent and deadly again. The scourge of 
violent Islamism is a multigeneration challenge as the battle against 
communism was decades ago. While we have had many successes, the threat 
remains and must be confronted.
  Looking at where extremism still lives today we see many familiar 
battlefields. In the Philippines, a ISIS affiliate was handed a major 
defeat last year at the city of Marawi. But remnants of this group live 
on, recruiting and scheming in the jungle. Only by denying them an 
opportunity to regroup and gain ground again can we prevent them from 
attracting new supporters and new momentum.
  Moving to Pakistan, we still find a state that claims to be an 
American ally but allows terrorist leaders to operate freely in the 
open. For too long we have provided billions of dollars to the 
Pakistani government as they betrayed us. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, 
Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other violent groups continue to find safe haven 
in Pakistan. They have injected their violent ideology into mainstream 
Pakistani politics, causing minorities to be routinely persecuted 
through despotic blasphemy laws. Pakistan's partnership with terrorism 
has led to continued violence within its neighbors India and 
Afghanistan. If Pakistan had truly been our ally, the Taliban would 
never had a place to run to after our intervention in Afghanistan. Yet, 
more than 17 years later, the Taliban is resurgent, retaking Afghan 
districts that we had long ago secured through American blood and 
treasure. We must not abandon this fight, but instead find a solution 
that ensures that al-Qaeda is never able to return and that the Taliban 
lay down their weapons and respect Afghanistan's young democracy.
  Nonetheless, Pakistan is not the only terrorist sponsoring state 
fueling instability in the region. Iran is also playing its part in 
arming and assisting terrorists fighting our forces in Afghanistan and 
across the Middle East. After signing the nuclear deal with the Obama 
administration, the Mullahs in Iran received billions of dollars in 
sanctions relief that was diverted directly to their legion of 
terrorist proxies. Now the Middle East is engulfed in chaos as Iran's 
militias march against our allies. Proxies like Hezbollah, Asa'ib Ahl 
al-Haq, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Kataib Hezbollah, the Houthis, and 
others are operating with impunity, massacring thousands in Syria, 
Iraq, and Yemen. They have targeted Americans in Iraq and Syria and 
have plans to attack our friends in Israel. This gathering storm will 
lead to inevitable conflict if we do nothing.
  Meanwhile ISIS has gone underground. While we have destroyed the 
socalled caliphate that inspired dozens of attacks in the U.S. and 
Europe, the deadly terror group has reverted to its insurgent roots. 
When President Obama foolishly withdrew our troops from Iraq in 2011, 
there were no more than 700 fighters remaining in ISIS's predecessor. 
The State Department even reduced the bounty for ISIS's eventual 
leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believing the group was a shell of its 
former self. But those assumptions proved wrong. Without U.S. forces to 
stop their advance and local societies plagued with Iranian-backed 
sectarianism, ISIS rose from the ashes to dominate an area the size of 
Britain. ISIS still has thousands of fighters dispersed throughout Iraq 
and Syria. We must not repeat Obama's mistake. A committed strategy to 
ensure ISIS's enduring defeat is required moving forward. We must send 
a signal to friends and adversaries alike that America is not turning 
its back on the region again.
  No ally knows the persistent struggle against terrorism more than 
Israel. Today, terrorists from Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and 
ISIS in Sinai are seeking Israel's destruction. Just recently Israel 
discover attack tunnels crossing from Lebanon into its territory which 
Hezbollah had built for the sole purpose of causing murder and mayhem 
in the Jewish State. America continues to stand firmly with Israel, 
providing the needed aid to keep our shared enemies at bay. But as 
instability continues throughout the region, Iran and other extremists 
will plot and recruit to wage war on our Israeli friends. Our duty as 
allies requires us to be vigilant in addressing these emerging threats 
before they become major obstacles for peace.
  Lastly, looking at North Africa and the Sahel new challenges have 
risen. Where there were once only about 100 al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, 
there is now a multitude of extremist networks with as many as 10,000 
fighters. Groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabab, ISIS, and Ansar al-Sharia 
have sowed chaos in places like Nigeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Somalia, 
preventing poor nations from reaching their full potential. These 
fragile states need a steady ally to help build their capabilities and 
lead a joint campaign to seek out and destroy the transnational 
terrorist threat in the region. Rather than pour endless taxpayer 
dollars into development efforts that are undone by local extremists, 
we need to formulate a strategy that addresses the lasting security 
vacuum terrorists have exploited.
  The violent ideology that has motived thousands to wage a life or 
death struggle against the United States and its allies is not gone. 
This ideology has long been present, but it was not until the September 
11th attacks that we woke up to its lethal ability and reach. Since 
then we have learned that this cancerous radical belief is adaptive and 
will not be defeated in one decisive battle. This is a long war we have 
no choice but to fight. We must also adapt our thinking and find 
committed partners who we can stand with us in this global struggle.
  And that's just the way it is.