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

Collins, Warner request unclassified assessment of impact of escaped ISIS prisoners on US security
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Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Toward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment MORE (R-Maine) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony US prosecutors bring new charges against China's Huawei Lawmakers grill Census Bureau officials after report on cybersecurity issues 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 MaguireSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report  House intelligence briefing on worldwide threat assessment delayed 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 TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press 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.