House committee to hold three hearings on counterterrorism

The House Homeland Security Committee scheduled three hearings for July 23-24 to discuss terrorist threats, terrorist travel and the emerging connections between criminals, terrorists and other foreign actors.

The committee held the first hearing on Wednesday, which was called "The Rising Terrorist Threat and the Unfulfilled 9/11 Recommendation." Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates continues to grow at home and abroad, according to a committee press release.

"Furthermore, some of the (9/11) Commission's recommendations remain unfilled including streamlining congressional jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security," McCaul said. "Next week, the former members of the commission will release a new report reflecting on the evolving threat to the homeland, including cyber attacks, and present recommendations on how to further enhance the security of the United States."

The two hearings scheduled for Thursday include the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence's "Jihadist Safe Havens: Efforts to Detect and Deter Terrorist Travel," and the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency's "Threat to the U.S. Homeland: Emerging Nexus between Foreign Actors, Transnational Criminal Organizations, and Terrorist Organizations in Latin America."

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said the situation in Syria and Iraq has worsened in the past 14 months due to terrorist travel.

"Thousands of Westerners, including over 100 Americans, have flocked to the region to join Islamist groups," King said. "With stunning speed, the group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq has been resurrected as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, and established what it calls a caliphate that spans large portions of Iraq and Syria. It is essential that the White House articulates American interests in the region and elicits greater cooperation from European and foreign partners to identify and track individuals seeking to join extremist groups."