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Isis Remains Unsolved Problem

Congressman Robert Pittenger HeadshotThe longer ISIS remains on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the more effective their propaganda and recruitment efforts will be. Allowing ISIS to remain on the battlefield will lead to a proliferation of ISIS-related or ISIS-inspired attacks around the world. While we do not yet know if ISIS directly recruited the Orlando terrorist, it is clear ISIS messaging and propaganda directly contributed to his radicalization and motivation.

ISIS remains an unsolved problem for President Obama. The Obama Administration has yet to develop a serious strategy to degrade and defeat ISIS. Beyond Orlando, news reports continue to indicate additional terrorist attacks around the world and ISIS ability to expand into parts of North Africa.

President Obama has relied largely on precision airstrikes to target ISIS. The United States has led significant bombing campaigns that have resulted in the destruction of meaningful targets. Yet these attacks have not resulted in any significant strategic gains toward defeating ISIS.

For example, President Obama has noted the 10,000 airstrikes conducted against ISIS targets. However, for the past year and a half, the Defense Department has consistently estimated ISIS troop strength remains between 20,000 and 30,000 soldiers. Airstrikes, alone, have not impacted the number of ISIS soldiers on the battlefield. Furthermore, President Obama’s strategy has done nothing to address the growing ISIS population in its headquarters city, Ar Raqqa.

Multiple Obama Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Carter, Air Force Secretary James, former Army Chief of Staff General Odierno, and former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey have all echoed that our current airstrike strategy does not go far enough to defeat ISIS. Until President Obama dedicates the resources necessary to remove ISIS from the battlefield, this radical jihadist organization will continue to recruit soldiers, mercenaries, suicide bombers, and other barbaric and violent individuals to commit murder.

As Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, I have worked tirelessly to promote policies which would defeat ISIS, including efforts to counter and intercept their illicit financing operations. Like a business, ISIS needs money to operate. We need to cut off their funding.

This week, I am hosting the 4th in a series of international security forums to address terrorism financing, cyber security, and intelligence collaboration. More than 125 Members of Parliament and other high-ranking officials from 30 nations will join me in Vienna. Through these forums, we have made great strides toward addressing joint terrorism-security concerns and counterterrorism efforts.

Just this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed our 10th separate piece of legislation designed to protect Americans from ISIS. As we look for new policies to increase safety, the United States must remain dedicated to maintaining the very freedoms outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which our country was founded upon and many died to protect. We cannot change our way of life and limit our American freedoms as a response to radical Islamist jihadists.

THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to protect Americans from IRS overreach. You probably recall the IRS scandal in which they were caught targeting conservative organizations. This legislation repeals the requirement for non-profit organizations to submit lists of their donors, helping to protect them from potential arbitrary and politically-motivated audits. When the scandal originally broke, my office advocated on behalf of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse after the two separate organizations were subjected to suspicious IRS audits.

My primary Constitutional duty is to provide for the common defense, and this week I joined a strong bipartisan majority to fulfill that duty by voting to fully fund the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2017. The FY2017 Defense Appropriations bill increases Defense spending by $3 billion to counter growing global threats, halts dangerous cuts to military readiness, and provides a much-deserved pay raise for our uniformed military personnel. To the active-duty military in our District, and to their families, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.

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