Winter 2015 Newsletter

In this issue: foreign fighters, legality of drones, large scale venues and events

Foreign Fighters – Potential Terrorists Return Home

foreign fighters freedom house cc

“The State Department, along with other agencies of the United States government, is deeply concerned about the threat posed by foreign fighters, who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to participate in the conflicts there. The intelligence community estimates that since January 2012, over 16,000 Foreign Fighters have travelled to Syria from more than ninety countries, including the United States. We are concerned that these trained and battle-hardened fighters will try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.” Robert Bradtke, Senior Advisor for Partner Engagement on Syria Foreign Fighters Bureau of Counterterrorism, Department of State, made these statements before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee hearing, “ISIS and the Threat from Foreign Fighters,”  in December 2014. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said, “The terrorist threat we face is increasingly decentralized, self-motivated, and may be harder to detect.” Some Members of Congress have supported and/or sponsored bills to deny or revoke passports for U.S. citizens fighting or planning to fight abroad for foreign terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The worry is American IS fighters may leave Syria or Iraq, return to the United States, and conduct attacks in their homeland, similar to recent terrorist attacks made by returnees to Paris and Brussels. A White House fact sheet stated “Our approach brings together homeland security, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic, military, capacity building, and information sharing efforts.” How can the United States best deter and protect against this threat?

Photo credit: Freedom House CC

Legal Issues Surrounding Drone Use


The increased number and usage of unmanned aircraft raises legal questions about the information they collect, trespassing claims, crossing international borders and what constitutes appropriate surveillance. Additionally, drone usage has raised questions regarding regulation. For general information about drones, HSDL analysts have created a Featured Topic on Unmanned Systems. The documents below have specific relevance to legal topics surrounding unmanned aircraft.


Large Scale Venues and Events: Homeland Security Challenges

yankee stadium

Sports events. Theme parks. Conventions. Concerts. These and other large-scale gathering places and events have multiple organizers, thousands of attendees, garner headlines and media coverage, and consequently become homeland security concerns. Planning for mass gatherings involves cooperation across a wide range of homeland security disciplines. As an example, DHS was the lead in coordinating a partnership of over 13 federal offices and agencies to assist state police in security operations at the 2014 Super Bowl. The HSDL has a wide range of documents and resources providing guidance and information for large scale event planning including two related Featured Topics: Mass Gatherings and Mass Evacuation. Review these Topics here.


Homeland Security Commemorations and Anniversaries

As winter moves into spring, there are several commemorations and anniversaries of significant homeland security events. Featured below are select incidents affecting the U.S., accompanied by pertinent HSDL documents. For the full list, visit the Upcoming Homeland Security Events calendar .

Citation FAQs

Need help citing HSDL resources? Visit our newest FAQ page for citation information for documents in the HSDL collection as well as several online guides that specifically address citing government documents.

And Finally


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