Hensarling expects terrorism-financing bill early next year

A top House Republican said Thursday that legislation tackling the complex world of terrorism financing would be ready by early next year. 

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said that the committee, which had already started crafting a measure, will take another deep dive into the financing issue in light of the terror attacks in San Bernandino, Calif., on Dec. 2. 

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“I’m not prepared to say exactly what the legislation will look like, but I would say again [it will be released] fairly early in the new year," he said. 

Hensarling said the bill is still in the developmental stages with Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who heads up the the panel’s Terrorism Financing Task Force that was reauthorized on Wednesday. 

The task force, created earlier this year, has a new agenda to take a closer look at whether banking laws need tweaking in response to increasing concern about the terror threat in the United States.

Hensarling, who attended a classified briefing with the FBI on Thursday, said the panel has examined the lines between international organized crime and terrorist financing.

He said there would be public and classified hearings to determine how much retooling the current bill might need after discussions with the FBI and other federal officials on the California shootings. 

"It’s part of the fuel line for radical Islamic jihadists," Hensarling said of terror financing. 

"Funds that are used in these terrorist acts, by and large, enter the financial system," he said.

"We’re looking at the point where they enter, and we will have a legislative response."

Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino. The FBI has said the two were plotting an attack since 2013. Malik pledged allegiance to Facebook in a message on Twitter during the attack.

Hensarling was asked about a large deposit — reportedly $28,500 — made to Farook’s bank account from WebBank.com and transferred into his mother's account ahead of the attacks.

"We’re in the fact-finding mode right now,” he said about the information coming in from the California shootings.

When asked whether online lenders would get extra scrutiny, he said, "Everything's on the table."