Post-Orlando, Lance Seeks Stepped-up Counters to Online Radicalization

Congressman Leonard Lance

Congressman Leonard Lance

In response to the Orlando killings, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) wants an increased federal focus on online radicalization.

“The gunman who launched the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 was radicalized by Islamist propaganda found online,” said Lance.  “We must push back against the surge of online radicalization.”

Lance noted that in the wake of attacks, FBI Director James Comey said he was “highly confident” that Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen had been “radicalized” while consuming online propaganda.  This admission comes on the heels of the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, which federal investigators believe could have been fueled by Islamic State propaganda disseminated on social media.

Lance called on Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to sign into law measures focused specifically on combatting the use of social media by radical Islamic terrorists both at home and abroad, including:

H.R. 3654, the Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act,  a bipartisan measure that passed the U.S. House in December, requiring the Obama Administration to produce a strategy to combat terrorists’ use of social media.

H.R. 4301, the Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act, requiring federal law enforcement to begin immediately screening the social media of prospective foreign travelers or immigrants seeking to enter the United States.  Lance cosponsored H.R. 4301 following reports that one of the San Bernardino terrorists 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 the terrorist entered the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa.

“The battlefront in the war against radical Islam includes those who use social media and we need to employ every tool at our disposal,” said Lance, who on Tuesday attended a classified briefing on the Orlando terrorist attack conducted by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen.