tv House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Counterterrorism CSPAN November 17, 2018 11:29am-12:31pm EST
new congress, new leaders, watch the process unfold on c-span. >> this weekend on "newsmakers," democratic congressman peter defazio is the top democrat on the transportation and infrastructure committee they talks about the possibility of a bipartisan perfectibility of congress and his hopes for democrats as they prepare to take the majority in the house. "newsmakers," sunday it's on ad hoc a.m. and 6 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> avon sales as the state department counterterrorism coordinator and he testified before the house foreign affairs subcommittee on terrorism on wednesday. texas congressman ted poe chaired the hour-long hearing.
>> all members may have five days to submit statements for the record. subject to the length, limitation and rules. i want to publicly comments on the good work and the relationship the chair has had with the ranking member in massachusetts. we both are former prosecutors. he brings a good tone to this committee.
want to thank him for the easy way it has been for us to work together while i have been chair of this committee. we don't always agree. we get along quite well. i think our subcommittee especially, and the foreign affairs committee do an excellent job of bipartisan work. you never hear about it because we are not feuding and fighting. i want to thank him publicly for his role in the last several years on the subcommittee. i don't know what the future holds. you might be chair of this committee or another one come january the second. thank you very much for the bipartisanship and the
relationship that we both of had together. the threat of terrorism remains a deadly challenge for us and our allies around the globe. the last four years, we have seen the ability of terrorist groups, many of which we had thought were defeated, 12 all and attract thousands and recruit others for their violent cause. relationship that we both of had together. they are waiting for opportunity to strike again. although we have made much progress against these terrorists on the battlefields, the gains are fragile. last week, a report by the pentagon warned that isis fighters have moved underground and are regrouping. many of those terrorists in the middle east have been run out of the middle east and have fled to africa and are regrouping and causing mischief there.
we must not become complacent. we must continue to be vigilant until those that motivate violent extremists are cast into the dustbin of history. we must not become complacent. we must continue to be vigilant i applaud the white house's new national strategy for counterterrorism. it change the u.s. government's perspective on the war on terrorism. correctly frames the battle in terms of an enduring challenge that must be managed to protect the homeland instead of omission that has a beginning and an end. it clearly recognizes the diverse challenges we face from terrorism, including iran's growing network of terrorist proxies and the ability of terrorists to exploit cyberspace. the strategy prioritizes counterterrorist use of the internet for radicalization, recruitment and fundraising. three things that i have long made clear, that is why they use the internet. many times they use our own platforms to radicalize, recruit and to fund raise. this has been introduced into the state a bill last congress and i'm glad to see white house is taking this seriously.
the strategy also makes it clear that this is not america's of her alone. international partners play an important role and we can empower them. after all, we are all in this together. that is really state department counterterrorism bureau comes in, created in 72. the bureau forges partnerships with foreign governments, multilateral organizations, and ngos to coordinate advanced counterterrorism objectives that enhance global security. under that broad mission, it has several court responsibilities, including coordinating strategy, conducting counterterrorism and diplomacy, building capacity to just terrorist threats.
given the enduring threat from terrorism we face, it is crucial that the bureau does its job effectively and efficiently. it is our job to make sure the american taxpayers are getting their money's worth. when we're talking about millions going towards programs abroad, people in my district are right to demand how it contributes to her personal security. this is all the more important given that the bureau has significantly had funding cuts over recent years. with limited resources, every penny must be spent wisely. for example, the inspector general filed a report said much of the anti-terrorism assistance. we were sitting to pakistan does not being used including dozens of course is not being implement it in pakistan. i'm pleased to hear that the bureau has since a repurposed many of those resources to other programs.
effective monitoring programs are crucial in spotting what is not working and making changes that do. for instance, we need assurance that the programming to prevent radicalization actually works. is the bureau in the business of countering violent extremism? has the bureau developed any mechanisms to prove these programs are working? as you know, i am eager to see our government go a step further than just designating terrorist activity. if we mean business, we must go after iran's proxies. iran is playing us because they use terrorist proxies. i do applaud the treasury's designation yesterday of for his
politics affiliated terrorists in iraq. a now, the state department must follow suit and designate certain groups for what they are, foreign terrorist will organizations that have the blood of americans on their hands. are in the very least, the affiliation with the irgc should be enough to meet the criteria to designate them. will to designate them. thank you for your important work and for being here today. we look forward to your testimony. now i turn it over to the ranking member from massachusetts for his opening comment. >> thank you, chairman. i just want to thank you for your work since this is our last hearing. it shows a great deal, it's pretty bipartisan. as much as you can get, in
youas much as you can get, in a good way. many of these these -- things might've been lost in the news cycle because we work together so smoothly. it has not been lost internationally. i can think of our work together trying to bring support to a country that has great concerns over their head in georgia, working together on that. working on the tariff issue. something was noticed strongly, particularly by the union -- european union countries. we made our bipartisan voice heard. as well as keeping saudi arabia's feet to the fire on issues and their promises. we have worked together on those and many other issues together. i'll miss working with you. you decided to go another way, that's just the way it is. i thank you for holding this hearing. returning again to the subcommittee to discuss the
bureau's budget and policy objectives. look forward to your testimony today, now that you are a full year into your duties. fighting terrorism is not solely the function of the military and it's not long-term strategy for how it can be worked successfully. the capacity building for law enforcement and improving government and rule of law to address systematic agreed is -- grievances and communities is critical. we need to put the proper funding behind these and other efforts if we are going to have a counterterrorism strategy that is successful in the long term. i'm therefore concerned concerned by the state department's request for less funding overall and specifically for antiterrorism programs. i don't know how you can expect any gains made by the military
to last. what is more, there are -- terrorist capacities are increasing with increased concerns over cyber attacks. we are still working tirelessly to make a lasting, significant dent in familiar terrorist threats let alone the new ones. so requests for less funding to meet these demands gives me pause to say the least. i'm also saddened as threats for terrorism are actually getting worse in afghanistan as the humanitarian crisis in yemen drags on at the expense of tens of thousands of lives lost and millions impacted. producing the perfect stage for extremism to take root.
so requests for less funding to meet these demands gives me neither country receives the attention or strategies, nor do any of the regions where isis fighters have traveled to or where their caliphate have emerged. you have an important job. our government has struggled for a long time trying to get counterterrorism right. the stakes are high. americans are victims of foreign terrorists and domestic terrorists, and we learn more and more of how many ways we can try to tackle this problem. there is no easy answer, but there are themes, and i look forward to discussing what your bureau is doing along these lines. for example, what your bureau is doing to coordinate with other state departments, usaid and defense department entities to minimize fragility and instability in places where radicalism efforts may more easily take hold. these, and many other issues, we hope to cover today. i look forward to discussing with you whether and how these
efforts shape and are sufficiently resourced and coordinated as part of the administration's whole of government approach. with that, i yield back. >> thank you, gentlemen. the chair will recognize the gentleman from illinois. >> thank you, and i want to echo the remarks of my colleague. i have appreciated working with you and wish you well. you will be missed here greatly, but thank you for all that you have done. ambassador sales, thank you for joining us. i have reviewed your testimony and remarks. terrorist threats are increasing around the world in geography and complexity and intensity. and yet, the request and the ambassador sales, thank you for joining us. administration appears to be drawing back or reducing investment in fighting against those threats, i'm very concerned about that.
i look forward to your remarks there. i appreciate your remarks yesterday about iran, the number one state sponsor of terrorism. they are a threat not just around the world, but in the region, their support for hezbollah, developing indigenous missile manufacturing is of great concern. i request that we continue to stay focused and i look forward to hearing your remarks. >> thanks, gentlemen. ambassador nathan sales is the coordinator for counterterrorism at the state department.
the ambassador was previously a law professor at syracuse, and before that, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the department of homeland security. ambassador, we have your written testimony. if you could limit your testimony to five minutes, then we will ask you questions. you are recognized. >> thank you, chairman and ranking members for hosting this hearing today. it's a pleasure to be back before the subcommittee. let me just say, mr. chairman, we will miss you. the state department's words of well wishes as we move on. thank you for your service over the years, particularly on the problem of terrorism. mr. ranking member keening, it is a pleasure to see you again. look forward to working with you in the next congress in this committee or in another capacity. thank you for the opportunity to be here, to talk to about the work of the state department's counterterrorism bureau and our ongoing efforts to protect the american people and our interest for the threat of terrorism at home and abroad. i would like to start by highlighting a few key points in the administration's counterterrorism strategy which we released on october 4. this is the fourth strategy the the u.s. government has released since 9/11, the first one since 2011.
it reflects today's fluid and complex terrorist landscape and lays out the administration's plan for defeating terrorist adversaries. the strategy sets forward the comprehensive, whole of government approach that relies not just on military tools but on civilian tools as well. we are not focusing on one or two groups, but the spectrum of organizations. we are not focusing on particular geographic regions, instead, as strategy sets out foundational principles and priorities we will pursue globally. the strategy renews our commitments towards defeating organizations like al qaeda and isis. in addition, it is no secret to this subcommittee that iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of state terrorism. tehran spends billions a year to support its terrorist proxies, $1 billion. the regime has a truly global reach and we must elevate our efforts to counter its to shift
-- it's destructive influence around the world. our strategy is an america first strategy, but that does not mean america alone, quite the contrary. terrorism is a global threat and all nations have a role to play. our strategy specifically highlights the need to leveraging existing partnerships and to develop new ones and to build our partners capabilities. our goal is for our partners to be able to confront the threats they face independently without needing to return for assistance. let me run through our most important efforts. first, countering iran is a top priority for this direct -- the trump administration. we are using all of our tools to counter these threats.
we are pressing for greater international and -- action against hezbollah in delivering this message. we are also helping our partners develop the capabilities they need to uncover and dismantle iran's networks so far, the administration has announced we are pressing for greater over 120 designation actions against iranian backed entities, 120. just yesterday, the state department announced to new designations. we denounced a rising hezbollah figure. we also mentioned the brigades, a group operating in the palestinian territory, whose numbers have plotted a number of attacks against israeli targets. these actions are in addition to the treasury department actions you have already mentioned. second, the administration is focused on cutting off the flow of money to terrorism. we do not want to stop the bomber, we want to stop the bomber, we want to stop the second, the administration is money men who pays for the bomb. we have announced 50 actions under a report -- terrorist designation authorities. we also building the capacity of
of our partners to investigate, prosecute, and interject funding to facilitators of terrorism. third, we are working to disrupt terrorist travel. we are leading the charge of information sharing and approving watchlist and around the world. these efforts have received a powerful boost when the security council adopted resolution 2396, which includes a number of new tools which will be mandatory. including the use of passenger name record data. the resolution takes a number of measures that the united states pioneered after 9/11 and makes them global standards. fourth, we are addressing the threats from terrorist fighters and homegrown terrorist. although foreign terrorists fighters are no longer streaming into the war zone in large
numbers, we are focusing on them leaving the war zone and returning to their home countries or third countries. the last thing i will say is that we are focusing on prevention and keeping the next generation of terrorists from emerging in the first place, which is why our efforts to combat terrorist ideology is so critical. mr. chairman, the terrorist threat is constantly evolving. it is incumbent upon us as a government to adapt along with that threat. my bureau and i greatly appreciate congresses efforts and support in a shared endeavor. i look forward to your questions and our conversation. >> i recognize myself for some questions. thank you ambassador sales for being here. you said that the iranian government spends a billion dollars a year on their proxies. >> that's right. >> and we spend about $230
million a year for your bureau. >> that's right. is that right? >> that was the request for fiscal year 19. >> how much do we spend? >> the numbers have fluctuated. in recent years, $222 million. >> it's a quarter on -- of what the iranian spend on causing terror, we are spending a quarter trying to go after their proxies through your agency. that's the point i was trying to make. we have no ct bureau in south america, is that correct? >> my bureau is actively involved with south american partners. >> what does that mean? >> it means we are trying to get the governments of south america to work with us to confront the full range of threats. >> we want them to do it. >> we are trying to get them to do it. >> but we are not actively involved, we are working to -- through other countries.
>> we are actively involved. our goal is to enable our south american partners to do it themselves rather than turning to us. >> i understand. how many proxies to the iranians have working? >> dozens. hezbollah is the best-known. >> i'm not looking for a number. i know hezbollah is the back guy -- bad guy in the neighborhood. but how many do they have around the world? do you have a number? >> i don't think there's a definitive number. we could go through the list. it is a very undistinguished list of bloodshed. groups like hezbollah, like on, the brigades in bahrain and militia groups in iraq. throughout the region and around the world. they are not shy about using proxies. >> rather than use the irgc, a terrorist group, they just use a proxy and then can deny culpability.
because the proxy is doing their bidding. is that a fair statement? >> in some cases they do that. sometimes they act directly. sometimes they use proxies. >> why hasn't the state department, the government designated ahh and hhs as terrorist proxies of iran? >> we're certainly concerned about the violent activities those groups are carrying out. as you know, iranian backed militias in iraq, speaking generally now, launched rockets at our embassy in baghdad. the threat environment has gotten to the point where we judged it necessary to spend -- suspend operations at the consulate. >> specifically, why have we not designated those two iranian proxies as terrorist groups? >> i don't have anything to announce for you today, but i assure you we are looking at the full range of terrorist proxies
backed by iran and the way to take appropriate action against them. >> it seems to me that the embassy in baghdad is pushing against designating these organizations as terrorist proxies. this summer, we had part of this staff go to baghdad, asked that they support designating these two groups as terrorist organization. they got pushback from the state department, that that is not going to happen. and shortly thereafter, these rockets came into baghdad from aah. i'm asking you to speculate, but do you know why the state department in baghdad is obstinate about naming these proxies?
they now have 15 seats in the iraqi government as terrorist groups. >> mr. chairman, i am reluctant to put words in the mouth of my colleagues in baghdad. but i think that the rocket attacks in recent weeks and months have had a clarifying effect on our awareness of the threat iran poses to the region. and to our forces. >> seems to me we are fighting an uphill battle when we have 15 members of these proxy groups in the government of iraq and we are not calling them out for being terrorists with american blood on their hands. i would just hope the united states government would designate these two organizations as terrorist groups, proxies of iran. and i agree with what you said,
iran is everywhere, they're all over the world and causing terror. they have shifted, as the ranking member has said, they have shifted their focus from maybe the middle east and syria to africa, about 9/11, pre-9/11, there were apparently about 100 al qaeda members, and now there are 10,000 affiliates. in africa. that is very disturbing, it's like they're moving from different place to different place. and iran is behind all of this. we need to make sure iran is held accountable and the other organizations are held accountable as well. do you have enough money? >> congressman, what i want is every dollar i need to accomplish the mission. not a dollar more.
>> very diplomatic of you. i want to turn over to the ranking member, let him ask questions. >> thank you, chairman. i agree with both of my colleagues here on iran. it is a great concern, but i want to move around. what i'm hearing in my district from people in terms of questions, and concerns, maybe a fear, i will ask you this straight out. is there any reliable evidence that individuals traveling in the caravan from central america are known or suspected terrorists? concrete evidence. >> any country has the right, and indeed, the responsibility, to protect its borders and make sure only those persons are admitted --
>> that is not what i asked you, sir. i asked you straight out. we should know, as members of congress. tell us if there are any suspected or actual terrorists traveling in that caravan. >> we would be honored to give you an answer in that question in an appropriate setting. >> you can answer this, since the president has been public you should be able to be public. yes or no, we don't have to know the details. he is causing fear in the american public. i can tell you, in my district. a yes or no is not classified. he has said so. i want to know, what you say. you can give us additional specific information should there be any. yes or no. >> i would be happy to answer that question as well in the classified setting. >> i'm not satisfied with that answer, because our commander in chief seems comfortable telling the american public that. can't force you to do it. that is why you are here.
that is why we are here as members of congress as well. let me shift gears then, disappointingly. i want to know what activity you have on the efforts in afghanistan and yemen is a mentioned and also included that directly or indirectly through arms tears -- arms sales or other means what evidence you have. >> in afghanistan, bureau's funding $54 million program to boost the of afghan forces to defend urban areas in recent andhs, we have seen taliban haqqani network mount an aggressive series of attacks in urban areas, specifically in kabul.
so what we have been doing is providing training, resources and equipment to local officials to help them interject operatives before they come into protected areas, to respond to crises in the heat of the moment, to do effective screening of potential threats and respond after a terrorist incident takes place. in yemen, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula has long been one of al qaeda's most deadly affiliates, with global reach and global ambitions. arabian peninsula has long been of course, you will recall the printer cartridge plot several years ago run out of yemen. we continue to be actively engaged using wholly government approaches, kinetic and non-kinetic civilian sector tools as well. in yemen we are doing things like boosting border security capability, so we can control movements of potential terrorists across borders, crisis response capability and so on. >> you didn't answer my question crisis response capability and so on. >> you didn't answer my question about russia. >> what was the question about
russia? >> russia's involvement directly or indirectly, through arms sales or other activity, in afghanistan for instance. ambassador: in afghanistan and yemen, yes. russia obviously has had a long historical interest in afghanistan, not all of it benign. the best way to answer the question would be to, it may not be a pleasing answer but i would be happy to answer it in more detail in a classified setting. congressman: thank you. in terms of your activity, how are you progressing with online terrorist activities? >> isis and its use of social media has been a game changer, in terms of their ability to inspire attacks remotely, as well as to recruit and radicalize people to
come to the war zone. we need social media companies to do the responsible thing and take down radicalizing and extremist content that violates u.s. law or the terms of service they offer to users. we have seen decent results but there is more work to be done. last year, a group of silicon valley companies formed an organization. the basic idea is for incumbent and prosperous companies to provide best practices to new entrants who may not have the resources and expertise, to help them spot content and take it down in a responsible way. >> ok, i would like just to get back to the budget issue as well. the chairman has mentioned the disproportionate nature with what iran is spending and what we are spending. we have just touched just some of the many areas around the globe that are of concern to our country. how do you make any kind of sense to a budget cut in this important area?
i mean, why is the budget being cut in an area where the danger is great and where our actions, particularly stateside, could save us money in the long run and save lives? >> first of all, congressman, i think i offer two answers to the question. our fiscal year 19 budget request is in alignment with historical appropriation levels. in 2013 we were appropriated $251 million. 2014, $232 million. we saw a spike in 2017, a one-time appropriation. the number for fiscal year 19 that we requested represents a return to the pre-2016 norm. that said, congress has the power of the purse whatever. money congress appropriates, we will expend to
the mission given our bureau. funding to counter iran in particular, although our budget request is for $237 million, a fraction of the $1 billion iran spends on terrorist proxies, we are not the only agency charged with countering iran around the world. other state department bureaus, the intelligence community, the defense department, the justice department, the treasury department, all team players in this effort. >> my time is overdue, so i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the counterterrorism bureau shares and overlaps responsibilities with the global engagement center. this summer congress passed a provision to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the gec.
>> my bureau's involvement with cbe issues, we are one cook in the kitchen with several other michelin star chefs. so it is important for each player to bring to bear their unique, comparative advantage, like what do we bring to this conversation that is special to us. the value add my bureau brings to this effort is a focus on a couple of different priority areas. first of all, countering ideology. our terrorist adversaries have a particular worldview informed by various philosophical, religious, economic circumstances. what can we do, my bureau asks, to counter the ideological
architecture that eventually leads to radicalization and terrorist attacks? another thing that we are doing in my bureau is working on de-radicalization. what can we do to bring them back into the fold? in part, this is a matter for government authorities, but it's also a problem to which we have to bring to bear all of society's expertise. medical professionals -- congressman: i have limited time. thank you. i appreciate that. shifting gears, compared to a year ago, can you describe iran's comparative strategic position in iraq, yemen, syria, are they stronger or weaker? ambassador: what is different today is that the u.s. government has brought to bear more of the tools at our disposal to cut off the money
iran uses to fund terrorists around the world. as you know, we announced the snapback of sanctions just last week. our goal is to get iranian oil exports down to zero. that is a significant economic windfall for the regime. i believe 80% of their revenues derive from energy exports. as we squeeze them, they are going to have to make some really hard choices about how they divert their scarce resources to address domestic needs, or project power and bloodshed around the world. congressman: what has given you confidence they are cutting resources for hezbollah, their proxies in syria, and other places? ambassador: the jury is out on that. we are very early in our maximum pressure campaign. what we want to see is a drawdown in forces in syria, a drawdown in support to the houthis who are launching missiles into saudi arabia and uav's into the united
arab emirates, a drying-up of financial resources that hezbollah seeds from all around the world. there is a robust fundraising network for them in south america, africa, around the world, so we are attacking all of those different nodes of the iran-threat network. congressman: the snapback of sanctions last week was long anticipated. have you seen actions within iran signaling to proxies that they are going to have to make do with less, or is there a continued investment in those organizations to continue nefarious activities? ambassador: we have seen a rush for the exits in the private sector. congressman: that's not what i'm asking. has the leadership in iran done anything that would indicate they are going to cut their investment in these activities? $1 billion you talked about, is there any signal they are going to reduce that $1 billion? is it still going to be running at the current rate?
ambassador: what i can tell you in an open and unclassified setting is that we are seeing businesses respond to the pressure we are bringing. companies are forced to choose, do i do business in the united states or tehran? and they are voting with their feet. congressman: across the globe looking forward, do you see the terrorist threats we face as a nation that challenge our allies around the world increasing or decreasing in years to come. ambassador: decreasing in certain respects and changing in other respects. let's use isis as an example. we have liberated virtually all the territory they once held in syria and iraq. at least 50% those territorial gains have come since january 2017. we are in better shape on the battlefield. where we still have work to do is isis-inspired attacks around the world, people radicalized by videos they saw on the internet.
all it takes is a rental truck and they can commit a nefarious act. congressman: isis has lost its territory. isis has not lost intent. with the internet and other resources, they are able to reach and threaten not just americans, but our allies. should we be reducing our investment to counter them, or should we be looking to increase our investment, look for leverage with allies and bring to bear, as you said, the full government approach to address the threat, not just of isis, but groups around the world? >> i think that's exactly right, congressman. as the military phase in the campaign draws down, it is important to bring to bear other tools, so law enforcement, prosecuting isis fighters, making sure they face justice, border security tools so we can track them as they move internationally, designations and sanctions tools to cut off
the flow of money to isis affiliates that have metastasized around the world. and various other civilian sector tools. congressman: i may have heard you wrong, and i'm way over time, but you indicated we plussed up in 2015, 2016 because of isis. now we are going back down to levels of spending pre-isis, and it seems to me we may be counting our chickens early. we need to think of different ways to counter the threat, but not resting on our heels, going back but looking forward to where we need to be in the future. >> the thing i would add to that conversation is, if i felt like i didn't have the resources to do my job properly, i would tell my boss, i would tell congress. i'm satisfied with the resources we have requested and will expend whatever resources i am allocated. congressman: i look forward to continuing the conversation to see what impact we are having, and hopefully have measurable results.
thank you. chair: thank you, gentlemen. i have a few more questions going back to this list of proxies i asked for. can you provide the committee a list of the iranian proxies and where they are in the world? ambassador: we are happy to do that, sir. chair: i look forward to seeing that. also, do you think that aah and ahn should be designated terrorist organizations? ambassador: i'm reluctant -- chair: can you answer yes or no, whether they should be listed or not? ambassador: i can't answer that. let me respectfully explain why i can't answer that question. i'm not in a position to comment on internal, executive-branch deliberations that may or may not be taking place.
if there is an announcement, we will be making it in due course. if there is not an announcement, we would do that in due course as well. chair: i think they should be listed. i think we are having some problems with the representation of the u.s. in baghdad and how they cozy up to iranian proxies. i'm concerned about iran influence in iraq, trying to control the iraqi government. i think that's what they're trying to do, and part of the way they are doing it is with iranian proxies that are in iraq. like i said, they have already got 50 members of their parliament holding office. we need to push back on their influence in iraq. afghanistan, we have been in afghanistan a long time. how long are we going to stay in afghanistan? ambassador: as long as conditions
warrant. chair: indefinitely might be a fair answer, would you say that? ambassador: my understanding of the south asia strategy is our policy for afghanistan is one that is conditions based. we are not going to set an arbitrary deadline because that will cause terrorists to wait us out. we want a conditions-based approach under which the afghan government participates in a negotiated settlement with the taliban and with other interested parties in the region to ensure we have a strong, unity government that can deny safe haven. from a counterterrorism standpoint, that is a critical piece of the conversation. we can't afford to go back to a pre-2001 environment in afghanistan or elsewhere, where terrorists enjoy safe haven. when terrorists enjoy safe haven, they project power outward and attack us and our friends. chair: i'm not asking you to give us a definite date, but on the horizon it looks to me,
as general miller indicated to the senate in june, that we are going to be there for a long time in afghanistan because of the terrorists that are in that country. and afghanistan has got to work their problems out. are terrorists still coming from pakistan into afghanistan? ambassador: pakistan certainly needs to do more to -- chair: are they still coming from pakistan into afghanistan, terrorists? ambassador: we are concerned about support for terrorism in any region of the world. and i can tell you, we have communicated to the pakistani government at the highest levels that we expect them to do more, just like we expected them to act with us after 9/11. pakistan has been a very effective counterpart in taking the fight to al qaeda. we need them to do the same thing with respect to the other terrorist groups active in the region.
chair: i think they are not doing their job to fight terrorism, because the terrorists come in from pakistan to afghanistan and just run across the border. they have been doing that for years. they take our money. billions of dollars we give pakistan every year. it befuddles me why we do that when they allow safe haven for terrorists in their own country that invade another country, namely afghanistan. i will yield to the gentleman from massachusetts. congressman: thank you, mr. chairman. i share those concerns as well. let me try this again. and just to not put you in a spot where it's classified. getting back to the caravan in the president's comments. he said in terms of terrorists, there could very well be, quote unquote, among the group. and he said, i think there is a very good chance you have people
in there now. now given what you know, if there are no people in there you have evidence of, then how could it be classified? let me just ask you the question, would you say no, there are no people in there? ambassador: i'm not trying to be coy, congressman. let me tell you, i used to be a law professor, and one of the subjects i taught was the espionage act. i know very well the criminal penalties of unauthorized public release of any classified information. i'm going to have to defer that question, but i want to be responsive to the question, get you the information you are asking for, i just want to do it in the right setting. congressman: i welcome that information. i hope there is information. i don't want to waste my time or the committee's time and find out there is no information there, and there is nothing that can be done. i want to make sure that is the case.
that is it for my time, mr. chair. i appreciate this. i look forward to what i assume will be information. thank you. yield back. chair: i want to ask another question. congressman: thank you. go ahead. might as well, huh? chair: are there iranian proxies working with the iraqi police? ambassador: with the iraqi who? chair: the iraqi police? are they working together, some of them have infiltrated the iraqi police. ambassador: i would be happy to address that in closed session. we are going to have a long closed session. we will take you up on that. ambassador: you know where to find me. always happy to appear before the subcommittee. chair: we appreciate that. we look forward to talking to you again in a classified setting. but i would like to reiterate, i would like a list of those
iranian proxies and where they are. and i will echo what the ranking member said about the money. the iranians are spending at least $1 billion on causing terror in the world, and we are spending a quarter of that to fight their actions. i think we are in for a long duration of iranian terrorist activities throughout the world. after all, they are the number one state sponsor of terror in the world. did you want to say something else? congressman: of course. one more question. thank you, ambassador. can you describe how the bureau for counterterrorism is addressing the woman's role for preventing counterterrorism activities? specifically, how are you promoting the meaningful
participation of women as partners? are you working to increase the number of women receiving training under the antiterrorism assistance program? this is something the full committee chairman, mr. royce and i have been working on, as well as representative frankel. if you could comment on that, that would be appreciated. >> i would be happy to. before i answer that question, let me briefly react to chairman poe's question. it's true, iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. it is a title they are probably proud of and not one they are looking to relinquish. we are spending $237 billion. we have requested $237 billion for the ct bureau, but the entirety of u.s. government efforts to counter iran terrorism is much more extensive. i would like to contextualize our request in the context of
the broader effort against iran-backed terrorism. as to the question of women, this is an important issue, and i'm grateful to you for raising it. it is one we need to focus on carefully. women are both potential victims of terrorism in unique ways of terrorism, and also potential perpetrators in unique ways. they are also potential detectors of terrorism in unique ways. one of the things my bureau has done has been to work with civil society organizations around the world to help families do a better job detecting warning signs of radicalism. it often will be the case that mothers are in a position to know when their children are taking a turn toward extremism. we need to empower those communities, empower those families to intervene to prevent somebody from taking the next step. it's also the case that women can be victims of terrorism. we are aware of the horrific crimes isis committed against
women in iraq and syria, so it is important for our counterterrorism response to terrorist groups that commit similar atrocities, be mindful of what those atrocities are so we can prevent them next time, so we can empower communities to prevent those and empower governments to prevent those sorts of crimes. chair: the chair will recognize the gentlelady from nevada. ms. titus. congresswoman: thank you, mr. chairman, and ambassador, for being here. i want to ask about the refugee crisis. we are in the midst of the world's worst refugee crisis, and yet the administration just recently announced they would lower the already record-low number we are accepting from 45,000 to 30,000. meantime, you have syrian refugees, yemen, some of them coming to our southern border,
the president wants to choke off admission, limit asylum, and cut foreign assistance. i'm wondering how you feel about the refugee situation, and as it worsens, does it increase threats of terrorism? do you think these issues are getting enough attention or enough resources so you can do your job? ambassador: we are worried about the various refugee flows and their relation to terrorism threats. this is not a mere hypothetical. this is a problem we have seen materialize in real-world terms. the syrian crisis has precipitated an enormous outflow of migrants from iraq and syria, through turkey, through the balkans into the heart of western europe. it is regrettable but true to say isis was able to exploit those migrant flows to bring
operatives to the heart of europe. just yesterday was actually the three-year anniversary of the bataclan attack in paris. it is incumbent upon us to do a couple of things to address this problem. we need to get control of borders. we need to know if terrorist financiers, terrorist operatives are trying to infiltrate our homelands, whether in the united states or europe. we also need, in the case of syria in particular, a negotiated political settlement that alleviates the humanitarian crisis causing these people to flee, or terrorists to exploit that hope. congresswoman: do you think it is moving in the opposite direction to cut off aid to these countries producing refugees, threatening to cut off aid to central american countries? don't we need to address the problem before it gets to our border? ambassador: certainly. the best form of protection is prevention.
when it comes to terrorism, the refugee problems my bureau is focused on most intently involves syria, also the problem in southeast asia. problem is putting it mildly, with the atrocities being committed against the rohingya, and we are watching that very carefully to make sure terrorists can't exploit those atrocities to radicalize and recruit. congresswoman titus: are you looking at terrorism in terms of some of the rise of groups on the far right, neo-nazis and nationalists? what about those terrorism groups that we are seeing an increase of in this country and europe? ambassador: the administration is certainly watching that threat. it is one that is a very troubling threat. the recent attack in pittsburgh is a particularly heartrending example of this domestic threat. when it comes to the domestic aspects of this threat, this is an issue my bureau doesn't focus
on, as our jurisdiction is to look overseas. but i can assure you my colleagues at the homeland security, justice, and the fbi are focused very intently, along with state and local officials. congresswoman: but it is increasing in europe and that is part of your domain. when you discuss this issue, does the president or the administration's rhetoric, as encouraging this behavior? ambassador: the national counterterrorism strategy describes far right, far left, secular, and various other forms of radicalism and extremism that produce violence. we condemn it and lay out a strategy to confront it. congresswoman: i guess the national counter strategy for terrorism released last month mentioned islamic groups 22 times and
neo-nazis only twice. how much priority are you making those kinds of terrorists? ambassador: again, i will defer to the fbi and the doj, and dhs, but those references are in the national counterterrorism strategy for a reason, the guys countering far right and far left groups and groups in between of a violent nature are a priority of this administration. congresswoman: i hope so. thank you. chair: the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. he yields back his time. the -- ambassador sales, thank you for being here. we are going to take you up on your willingness to talk to us in a classified setting, and just so it is clear, the issues we want to talk about are terrorists, if any, in the caravan moving toward the united states. we want to talk about the extent of the russian involvement in yemen and also afghanistan.
and we want to talk about the third issue, the iranian proxies that are in the iraqi police forces. those are the three issues, as soon as we can do this. ambassador: we will be ready, sir. chair: i appreciate it, ambassador sales. thank all the members for being here today. this subcommittee is adjourned. [gavel sounds] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
democratic house agenda. after that, senate leaders talk to reporters about their leadership team before the next congress. we will hear from republicans followed by democrats. history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service. we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. new members of congress were in washington, d.c., this week for orientation. some incoming members stopped by the cameras to answer questions.