Strategy needed to address terror threats

Published 8:44 pm Thursday, March 24, 2016

By Jeff Sessions | Junior United States Senator from Alabama

The entire world extends its sympathy to the people of Brussels who have suffered such terrible loss. My pain is particularly acute, having just been in that beautiful city at the German Marshall Fund Conference this weekend. Today’s attacks confirm the reality of the threat the Western world faces from radical Islam. It cannot be ignored. This threat must be confronted with clarity and resolve.

Clearly, the refugee and migration policies of Europe and the United States must be thoughtfully reconsidered. The United States Refugee Admissions Program must be significantly altered and all its components closely examined. It cannot be the policy of the United States that millions of foreign nationals are able to demand permanent entry into this country as refugees or asylees, particularly when our law enforcement and intelligence communities cannot adequately screen these individuals for security risks. There must be limits. We know many terrorists have used and will use this process, and every other available method, to gain entry into our country. Indeed, at least 14 individuals admitted to the United States as refugees have been implicated in terrorism in the last year alone.

Certainly many people around the world have desperate needs, but many bad actors seek to exploit human tragedy. Our primary goal must be to protect the American people. But we should use all reasonable efforts to help those in crisis by creating safe zones and providing aid close to their homes. This will allow those displaced to return home when the violence abates. The Europeans have requested the establishment of safe zones, but the United States continues to ‘study’ the situation and has not taken sufficient action. This stalling must end. And countries throughout the region that have done little to accept those who have been displaced must do more.

The sad truth is that the extreme and misguided refugee and immigration policies of Europe provide us with valuable insight. Europe has admitted migrants from areas with histories of terrorism in such large numbers that assimilation has failed. This has allowed radicalization to occur. The Brussels attacks underscore the risks that these failed policies have created.

Our country always seeks to help those in need as we are able, but the huge cost must be accounted for and the people’s safety protected. Unless we change, the danger to the people of the United States will surely get worse. Defeating this generational threat is the challenge of our time. It will not be easy or quick. Defeat of Al Qaeda or ISIS will not be the end. Experts tell us that this dangerous radicalization may last for decades.

A strategy that is strong, relentless and realistic must be developed that can gain bipartisan support along with the support of our allies, within and without the region. This is essential and doable. With such a well-considered strategy, we can defeat terrorism and further peace in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.