Cruz bill would strip American IS jihadis of citizenship
Senator Ted Cruz wants to protect America from potential terrorist attacks carried out by US citizens returning from Iraq or Syria who have joined the ranks of Islamic State. He will introduce a bill next week that would strip the citizenship of any American who provides support or fights for terrorist groups wanting to attack the US.
Cruz said he is filing the Expatriate Terrorist Act in reaction to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It would provide another level of protection to prevent foreign fighters from re-entering the United States, he said.
“Americans who choose to go to Syria or Iraq to fight with vicious ISIS terrorists are party to a terrorist organization committing horrific acts of violence, including beheading innocent American journalists who they have captured,” Cruz said in a statement.
“There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt on their part to re-enter our country and carry out further attacks on American civilians.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave support to a similar proposal in a Time magazine op-ed Thursday.
Cruz's bill would apply to those providing support only to foreign terrorist groups and would result in that person technically renouncing his citizenship "with the intent of supplanting his U.S. citizenship with loyalty to a terrorist organization."
The Pentagon believes about a dozen U.S. citizens are fighting with ISIS and 100 Americans are inside of Syria.
Cruz received his first legislative victory earlier this year when President Obama signed his bill into law that would prevent a U.N. ambassador from entering the United States if that ambassador was a known terrorist.
The bill was filed in reaction to Iran naming its ambassador to the U.N., based in New York, who had links to the group involved in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
Cruz's proposal takes on added urgency with the revelation this weekend that a French journalist held hostage in Syria by ISIS has identified a French citizen who attacked a museum in Brussels as one of his ISIS guards.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Nicolas Henin had confirmed the identity of Mehdi Nemmouche as one of his captors in an article written for the French magazine Le Point. The Telegraph reported that Henin had decided to speak up about his experience after the French newspaper Le Monde quoted French intelligence sources naming Nemmouche as an ISIS member.
Nemmouche is currently awaiting trial in the May 24 shooting, in which he is accused of killing an Israeli couple and a French woman who were visiting the museum, as well as a Begian man who worked there. Nemmouche was arrested six days later in the southern French city of Marseille.
Henin was released from captivity in April along with three other French journalists. His lawyer, Marie-Laure Ingouf, told the Telegraph that the other three men had also recognized Nemmouche from their time in captivity. The Telegraph reports that the four were at one point held alongside American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded by ISIS in recent weeks.
In the article, Henin describes Nemmouche as sadistic, saying "When Nemmouche was not singing, he was torturing. He was part of a small group of Frenchmen whose visits would terrify the 50-odd Syrian prisoners held in the cells nearby." The journalist adds that the jihadist used to taunt him, saying "You see these motorbike gloves? I bought them to hit you. Only for you. Do you like them?"
French authorities say there are some 900 people from France who have been implicated in jihad in the Syria region. Several dozen have been killed.
Currently, natural born citizens of the US cannot have their citizenship revoked against their will. It is unclear whether Cruiz's bill would supercede the denaturalization law. It is also against international law to strip an individual's citizenship if they are not also a citizen of another country. In other words, the US cannot create a "stateless" person that no other country would accept.
Let the courts sort it out. In the meantime, stripping US citizenship and denying entry to returning terrorists is a good idea whose time has come.