Shaheen Provision in Committee-Approved Defense Bill Establishes New Senior Coordinator Position to Address ISIS Detainee Issues

May 23, 2019

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. The defense bill includes a Shaheen amendment that would establish a senior coordinator position within the Executive Branch for all ISIS detainee issues. This position would lead all diplomatic engagements and planning regarding the future of ISIS detainees.

Additionally, the amendment mandates an annual report to Congress on the status of the repatriation, detention and prosecution of high-value ISIS detainees, as well as efforts to inform family members of U.S. victims about the status of detainees responsible for crimes against Americans. The creation of this role was a recommendation of the Syria Study Group’s (SSG) interim report. Shaheen established the Syria Study Group in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that was signed into law in October. The Syria Study Group is a bipartisan panel created with the purpose of completing a comprehensive strategic review of America’s policy in Syria. 

“I fought to establish the Syria Study Group to empower lawmakers with the information and guidance necessary to shape U.S. strategy in the region. The group’s recommendation to create this position demonstrates progress made toward that goal, and gives Congress an important opportunity to address the serious concerns related to ISIS detainees, especially as U.S. involvement in Syria under the Trump administration remains uncertain,” said Shaheen. “There needs to be accountability and oversight on this issue to ensure terrorists accused of murdering U.S. citizens are brought to justice and made to stand trial in the United States. I urge Democrats and Republicans in both chambers to support the creation of this role so Congress can continue to ensure that dangerous detainees will not be haphazardly dealt with as U.S. policy in Syria continues to face uncertainty.” 

Shaheen has worked closely with the family of James Foley, an American journalist and Granite Stater who was viciously murdered by ISIS jihadists. Shaheen has fought to ensure that ISIS terrorists culpable in Foley’s murder, as well as other U.S. citizens, are brought to trial in the United States.