Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Tom Garrett (VA-05) hosted a press conference today urging their colleagues to support and pass the bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608). Tima Kurdi, co-founder of the Kurdi Foundation, whose sister-in-law and two nephews drowned while trying to cross to Greece seeking refuge from the Syrian war, also spoke about the need to stop arming rebels in Syria and end the regime change war in Syria that has caused the suffering of the Syrian people. The bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America, and the U.S. Peace Council.
"Together, we're raising our voices and calling on our nation's leaders to pass the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. For years, the U.S. government has been supporting militant groups working directly with and often under the command of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government. The fact that our resources are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every Member of Congress and every American. Last night, President Trump talked about many things, but he did not address the destructive regime change war in Syria that has caused such great human suffering, created millions of refugees, caused tremendous loss of life, and has strengthened our enemies. I urge the Trump Administration and leaders in Congress to support this important bipartisan legislation and pass the Stop Arming Terrorists Act," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
"Regime change will not bring an end to the suffering of my people in Syria. A military solution is not the path to peace in Syria. We must find a political solution. I'm proud to support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act and call on President Trump to end the regime change war in Syria that has only led to more bloodshed, more suffering, and created more refugees. Enough is enough," said Tima Kurdi.
"Congress must get off the sideline and do its job. Our legislation will ensure that Congress is performing its vital oversight function so that taxpayer dollars spent in the fight against terrorists are spent properly and effectively and do not end up in the wrong hands," said Rep. Peter Welch.
"The first goal of U.S. foreign policy must be to ensure peace and stability. Open source inquiry tells us that what was formerly Jabhat Al Nusra and currently is Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is commonly known as al-Qaeda in Syria. The alternative is ISIS. These are the options that stand at the door if we overthrow the Syrian government. We've seen in both Iraq and Libya that people are worse off now than before the U.S. intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. We need to stop arming terrorists and end our destructive regime change foreign policies," said Rep. Tom Garrett.
Background: The Stop Arming Terrorists Act would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:
Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.