Threat of ISIS terrorists with Western passports scrutinized

The Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, led by Chairman Candice Miller (R-Mich.), questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) witnesses on the potential threat posed by ISIS members with Western passports during a hearing Wednesday. 

During the hearing, entitled “One Flight Away: An Examination of the Threat posed by ISIS Terrorists with Western Passports,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) questioned DHS witnesses and reiterated his concern that unknown terrorists without a criminal record or intelligence traces could use a valid U.S. passport or the Visa Waiver Program to enter the country with the goal of harming Americans.

The DHS’ Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism testified on the government’s efforts to prevent such attacks.

Miller said that although CBP continuously vets all visa applicants against terrorism information, “that information is imperfect if we do not have a complete picture of an individual’s travel route.”

John Wagner, assistant CBP commissioner for Office of Field Operations, said the quest for additional information is a continual process.

“As an operational organization, we’re always looking for additional sources of information to help us paint a better picture of a traveler,” he said.