15:35 GMT +307 December 2019
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    Homeland Security Fear US Visa Program Could Be Exploited by Jihadists

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    Following the terrorist attacks on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the American Visa Waiver Program (VWP) faces scrutiny over security concerns.

    MOSCOW, January 18 (Sputnik) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed concerns that terrorists might use the visa renunciation program to enter the United States, reports AP.

    The American Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) permits nationals of designated countries to travel to the US for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

    "To deal with the foreign fighter potential, the foreign fighter threat presented now globally, we need to develop more robust information sharing with our key counterterrorism allies overseas to share information about individuals of suspicion," Johnson told AP.

    Johnson said he doesn't want to discard the program completely as it makes it easier for Americans to travel to friendly countries and for citizens of those countries to travel to the US.

    But he expressed concern that some of those countries also have citizens or legal residents who have gone to fight or train with terrorist groups in the Middle East, Asia or Africa, then returned home determined to act violently. Cases include residents of France and Germany who traveled to the Middle East to fight or train with al-Qaeda or Islamic State militants, reports AP.

    US policy makers are concerned that those fighters will return to their home countries and from there travel to the US.

    A top Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, recently called the VWP program America’s “Achilles' heel,” reports Fox news. She further added, “Foreign fighters can come back from training, they go through a visa waiver country, and they come into this country.”

    She feels that the program needs to be reexamined. “I think we need to take a look at the Visa Waiver Program again, and see what we can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening, because I believe it will happen, if it hasn’t already,” reports Fox News.

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    Tags:
    Daesh, jihadists, border, terrorism, counter-terrorism, law amendment, conference, transport, US Department of Homeland Security, al-Qaeda, Jeh Johnson, United States
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