US training for terrorists is being expanded, officials say
The US is expanding training to foreign militants for terror groups, including those that have attacked US interests, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The training, dubbed Logistics for Terrorist Organizations (LTO), is being launched to include groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda and to include other foreign terrorists that have used US-made weapons.
President Donald Trump signed the training directive on Friday, two weeks after he signed a presidential memorandum ordering a halt to funding to countries and individuals that are funding terrorists and other groups fighting US interests.
“The President has instructed the Department of Defense to begin the process of reopening the terrorist training program to include more than 300 foreign terrorist organizations,” the Pentagon statement said.
“The program will be re-opened as soon as all foreign terrorist fighters have been captured or have been identified.”
“We are also looking to expand the program to foreign terrorist groups that have engaged in violent acts against Americans and the American people,” the statement added.
Under the directive, the United States would continue to fund and train some of the LTO groups, which have been accused of committing serious crimes, as well as the foreign terrorist group that was the focus of the initial training program.
The directive was signed by the Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
The order also called for a review of how the US is using the Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) Program, which allows foreign terrorists to travel to the United Nations and conduct deadly attacks.
The FTF Program, originally established to counter terrorism from foreign countries and foreign fighters, was expanded in 2015 to include the more dangerous foreign terrorist training programs like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.
The Obama administration initially tried to close down the program, but in March 2017 Congress voted to allow it to resume after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.
In recent years, some groups have attempted to recruit foreign fighters from other countries.
In 2015, the Justice Department announced that it was shutting down the FTF program, which had been funded with $10 million in public funds, in response to the threat posed by ISIS, who is fighting in Syria.
Trump had previously called the program “one of the great failures” of the Obama administration, and said the government should shut it down.
“The terrorist training that was approved, which was a disaster, is no longer authorized, it is no more,” Trump said at the time.
“We’re going to close it down, because it’s not working.”
The White House has also been pushing Congress to pass a bill that would permanently ban the FTM Program.
Trump has also said that he wants to get rid of it, saying he wants it to be a “no-fly zone” and that he does not want to “get involved” in “some of the very bad people who are killing our people.”