Washington, D.C. – Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) announced the introduction of H.R. 4186, the Enemy Expatriation Act, that would provide for a loss of American citizenship for people who travel overseas to join ISIS or other foreign terrorist organizations designated by the Secretary of State.
“An individual could make no clearer statement that they have voluntarily repudiated their American citizenship than by traveling overseas to join ISIS or any other designated terrorist organization,” said Representative Dent.
Current federal law identifies several actions by which United States citizens and legal permanent residents can voluntarily relinquish their nationality. These acts include serving in the armed forces of a foreign state at war with the United States and committing treason. However, engaging in hostilities against the U.S. as part of a non-state terrorist organization is not currently included in that list. Dent’s legislation, the Enemy Expatriation Act, would correct this omission by adding one item to the list of expatriating acts: travelling abroad to join, train with, support, or fight for a State Department designated foreign terrorist organization.
“This bipartisan legislation updates existing law to better reflect how terrorist organizations operate in the modern world. Our legal system and law enforcement have consistently proven capable of apprehending and serving justice to domestic terrorists. However, U.S. nationals who travel abroad to support foreign terrorist organizations represent a military threat that requires a military response.
At least 250 American nationals have travelled or attempted to travel to the Middle East to train with foreign terrorist organizations. One such individual was the late al Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki. Operating in Yemen, he had close contacts to Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. He also admitted to colluding with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber,” prior to his failed bombing attempt on Northwest Flight 253.
“People who travel to join a terrorist group like ISIS, fight with them, train with them, and commit unspeakable atrocities should not expect to be shielded by all the rights and privileges enjoyed by American citizens. ISIS and al Qaeda are antithetical to everything we believe in and stand for as Americans. Any individual who joins them should be treated in the same manner as we treated Americans who joined the Nazi or Imperial Japanese armies during World War II,” Dent said.
Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) joined Rep. Dent in introducing this legislation.