Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan: Target Terrorists’ Social Media

Dec 15, 2015
Press Release
California Killer Pledged Jihad on Facebook

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today called for the government to begin immediately screening the social media of anyone who wants to enter the United States through a visa program.

Buchanan said reports that one of the San Bernardino terrorists pledged support to Islamic jihad on Facebook two years ago reflects “staggering incompetence” on the part of the government’s screening process.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre, Tashfeen Malik, sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of Pakistani friends in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for Islamic jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day. The messages were posted before Malik, 29, entered the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa in July 2014, citing two top federal law enforcement officials.”

The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill requiring the administration to develop a social media strategy to combat terrorists, but Buchanan said the administration shouldn’t wait for Congress to tell it to do the obvious. “We have heard repeatedly that terrorists use social media as a recruitment and communication tool and yet we don’t bother to screen their on-line activity before allowing them into America?” Buchanan asked.

“We should have been tracking their social media all along, but apparently our government was too concerned about political correctness and violating the privacy rights of foreigners,” Buchanan said. “This woman never should have been allowed into our country after pledging Islamic jihad on Facebook.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that a former acting chief of Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence bureau said civil liberties and privacy concerns have given some DHS officials reservations about scrutinizing visa applicants' social media posts

Buchanan said the administration needs to reverse that policy and “put the safety of Americans ahead of the privacy of foreigners.”

Last week the congressman voted for legislation to deny visa waivers to people who have traveled to Syria, Iraq and other high-risk nations during the previous five years. Additionally, the U.S. House passed the SAFE Act, with Buchanan’s support, last month requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally certify that each and every refugee from Syria and Iraq is not a security threat.