By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. senator said Friday that Americans who join, support or fight with Islamic State should lose their U.S. citizenship, and said he would introduce legislation to bar anyone who does so from returning to the country.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and conservative firebrand who is seen as a likely 2016 presidential contender,- said he would introduce his “Expatriate Terrorist Act” on Monday, the first day Congress is back from its five-week August recess.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans on Monday to strip suspected Islamist militants of their passports temporarily, to combat the threat posed by radicalized Britons returning from Syria and Iraq.
Although the fate of Cruz’s measure is uncertain in the Democratic-controlled Senate, Islamic State’s advances and reports of brutality, including the videotaped beheading of two U.S. journalists, have increased pressure on Congress to support efforts against the militant Sunni group.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, also seen as a 2016 presidential hopeful and a leader of the Republican party’s isolationist wing, backed revoking fighters’ passports in a Time magazine column this week.
About 100 Americans are believed to be fighting with the Sunni militant group, as are some 500 Britons and many from other European and Middle Eastern countries.
Cruz’s measure would amend existing U.S. law to make becoming a member of, fighting for, or providing material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization the equivalent of renouncing U.S. citizenship.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Storey and Leslie Adler)