CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4820, the Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act of 2016. The bill was introduced on March 21, 2016, by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) and was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which order the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote, on March 23, 2016.
H.R. 4820 directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to use public testimonials of former violent extremists or their friends and family to combat terrorist recruitment and communications. In addition the Secretary is directed to coordinate Federal efforts, as well as engage with nongovernmental and international partners to identify and utilize appropriate testimonials.
In March 2015, the Committee on Homeland Security launched a bipartisan Task Force on Combatting Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel. Eight Members of Congress were charged with examining the threat to the United States from foreign fighters.The Task Force assessed domestic and overseas efforts to obstruct terrorist travel and identified potential security gaps. They issued a final report on September 29, 2015.
This bill is based on one of the top recommendations of the Task Force. The bipartisan panel found that many foreign countries were engaging former extremists and defectors returning from the battlefield to tell their stories and convince others not to join and fight with groups like ISIS. However; they concluded that the U.S. government was not making adequate use of the testimonials of disaffected extremists.
The Task Force recommended the Administration launch a concerted effort to use such testimonials in a campaign to counter-message terrorist groups like ISIS. The panel also advised that the government work through nongovernmental channels and engage with foreign partners to find and distribute such testimonials through credible outlets.  According to the Committee, last year DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council made a similar recommendation, urging the Department “to craft and disseminate counter-narrative efforts” based on the testimonials of former extremists.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “Yesterday I introduced H.R. 4820, a bill that would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to use the testimonials of former violent extremists or their associates in order to counter terrorist recruitment. It is my belief that this legislation will help prevent future attacks and protect individuals both at home and abroad.”
 See Final Report on the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel at 2.
 Id. at 37.
 See Rep. Fleischmann’s Press Release, “STATEMENT: Fleischmann on Brussels Attach” March 22, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is currently unavailable.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 3-1555.