Collins, Warner request unclassified assessment of impact of escaped ISIS prisoners on US security

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Republicans struggle to coalesce behind an impeachment strategy Paul’s demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues Graham predicts controversial Trump court picks will clear panel MORE (R-Maine) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats give Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan the cold shoulder TikTok faces lawmaker anger over China ties Collins, Warner request unclassified assessment of impact of escaped ISIS prisoners on US security MORE (D-Va.) wrote to the Trump administration Tuesday demanding an assessment of the threat ISIS poses to the U.S. amid reports that several detained members of the terrorist group escaped captivity in northeastern Syria. 

Collins and Warner, who both serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireAdministration officials say election security is a ‘top priority’ ahead of 2020 TikTok faces lawmaker anger over China ties Collins, Warner request unclassified assessment of impact of escaped ISIS prisoners on US security MORE expressing “grave concern” over the escape of “several” ISIS detainees from detention facilities run by Kurdish groups that are currently embroiled in a standoff with Turkish forces in the area.

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“As the Kurds understandably shift their focus to defending themselves, their ability to securely detain these ISIS fighters will become increasingly uncertain. Already, press reports have indicated that senior U.S. officials say they have ‘no real idea’ how many fighters may have already escaped, and how many more are likely to do so,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Therefore, please provide to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence an assessment of the impact the escape of ISIS detainees in SDF custody could have on the security of United States and our allies, including the detainees who have escaped and those still residing in SDF custody.”

The senators requested that the assessment from Maguire be delivered by Nov. 19 and be as “unclassified to the extent possible, with a classified annex if needed.”

The letter comes as bipartisan lawmakers continue to express concerns over the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, which critics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill Interview: DNC chair calls Latinos ‘imperative’ to winning in battleground states Democrats give Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan the cold shoulder Senate Republicans struggle to coalesce behind an impeachment strategy MORE say was green-lighted when the administration announced it would withdraw troops from the region. Many in Congress, including some traditional Trump allies, have worried that the retreat abandoned U.S.-allied Kurdish forces and could empower ISIS.

“Many of these individuals are hard-core terrorists, with the kinds of expertise — bomb-making, leadership and propaganda — that had made ISIS such a threat to the United States and our allies,” Warner and Collins wrote, referring to the estimated 10,000 captured ISIS fighters. 

“If left unchecked, the escape of ISIS detainees in Syria could lead to similar counterterrorism setbacks,” they added, referring to the rise of ISIS that was fueled by al Qaeda prisoners who had broken out of detention.

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