US House votes to revoke passports of Americans linked to terror groups

A travel pouch containing a US passport. ST FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The House of Representatives has passed a measure that would allow the US government to revoke or deny passports to Americans linked to "foreign terrorist organisations".

Passed by a voice vote Tuesday after a 15-minute debate, the bill aims to block the movement of "lone wolves" trained in Syria by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group for attacks in the United States.

Senate approval is required for the bill to become law.

It authorises the US secretary of state to revoke the US passport - but not the nationality - of any American determined to have "aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped" a designated foreign terrorist organisation.

Likewise, the US passport can be denied under the bill to any American that falls into that category.

US law currently allows passports to be revoked for national security or foreign policy reasons.

But Republican congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, argued that the law is open to interpretation, making a more explicit measure necessary.

About 180 Americans have traveled to Syria to join extremist groups, out of about 3,400 western foreign fighters, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in February.

"These traitors who've turned against Americans (and) joined the ranks of foreign radical terrorist armies should not be allowed to come back in the United States unless it's in handcuffs," Republican congressman Ted Poe, the bill's sponsor, said.

Americans whose passports are revoked can appeal through administrative channels.

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