Rep. Ted Poe said President Barack Obama should sign into law the Passport Revocation Act, but was unsure if he would, since the president was "timid" about using the word terrorist.
Poe told Newsmax TV's
"America's Forum" the legislation he introduced would "allow the State Department to revoke passports of American citizens who are a member of a foreign terrorist organization," adding it was already a felony for a citizen to join a terrorist group in another country.
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"He should sign it into law. Now, whether he will or not, none of us know. We're in a situation where the president is timid about even using the word terrorist or radical jihadist," the Texas Republican said Monday.
Poe, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said U.S. and European officials were concerned about the increased threat of homegrown terrorists following the attack in Paris at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, in which 12 people died.
"People, usually through social media, go to Syria, get trained by ISIS to commit crimes in Syria. Then, they come back home because they're trained, and then they want to commit similar types of crimes in Europe or in the United States. And, that's what we're very concerned about," he said.
Tensions ran high during the manhunt in France for the gunmen responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attack, who had ties to al-Qaida. They were located after a two-day search as they held hostages in a small town near the French capital, and another gunman with suspected terrorist ties reportedly murdered several hostages at a Jewish supermarket the same day in Paris.
Belgian officials uncovered sleeper terror cells and arrested more than two dozen people on Friday who were suspected of having ties to Islamic extremist organizations.
Intelligence officials said there could be as many as 180 people with plans to attack targets
in several European countries.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced temporary plans in 2014 to withdraw passports and block entry into Britain by suspected jihadists, and the British Parliament is considering a counterterrorism
and security bill.
On Friday, France approved a law allowing authorities to ban suspected jihadists from leaving the country and stopping non-citizens from entering if it was thought they posed a danger, reported Townhall.com
In Germany, existing law permits authorities to seize passports of people suspected of having plans to join terror groups, and Denmark is considering similar legislation, reported the Euobserver
Poe said that if people were identified as aligning with a terrorist organization overseas, they wouldn't be able to get on an airplane or a ship under his bill.
In a Newsmax op-ed
on Friday, Poe wrote that Americans recruited by terrorists groups were "one of the most overlooked weak spots in our national security today."
"American passport holders who travel overseas to fight with the Islamic State are not going to come back to open coffee shops; they are coming back to kill. We cannot let them come back at all. That is why I have reintroduced the FTO Passport Revocation Act," Poe wrote.
The bill would "help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from traveling internationally," as well as "prevent turned Americans from entering the United States under the radar and undetected."
Poe originally introduced the bill in 2014, where it was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He said he reintroduced the bill in the new Congress.
Poe anticipated on Monday the Passport Revocation Act would have the support of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, saying "the prospects of this bill passing are very good. It makes a lot of sense to do this to make America safer."
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