Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson has admitted that dozens of Americans who went overseas to train with ISIS militants have returned to the US.
During the 60 minutes interview, Lesley Stahl questioned Jeh Johnson about the 40 american ISIS members who have returned to the U.S.
Lesley Stahl: As I understand it, of the 180 Americans who have gone overseas to fight in Iraq and Syria, 40 have come back. I assume you’re keeping close tabs on those 40?
Jeh Johnson: We have in fact kept close tabs on those who we believe have left and those who’ve come back. A number have been arrested or investigated and we have systems in place to track these individuals. But you can’t know everything.
More than 3,000 Europeans have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS. One reason so few young people from the United States have gone, he says is geography.
Jeh Johnson: We are separated from the hot spots by an ocean, which does make it more difficult.
Lesley Stahl: So do you think if it were easier for these kids to get there, there would be more of them going?
Jeh Johnson: Probably. And so border security is not simply preventing people from getting in, but very often preventing somebody from leaving for the wrong reasons.
The homegrown movement – with its Internet recruiting videos — was largely inspired by this man, an American turned terrorist in Yemen, named Anwar al-Awlaki. He was killed by a drone strike like this one, one of many Johnson green-lighted when he was general counsel at the Pentagon.
Jeh Johnson: If it was a strike off what we call the hot battlefield — in other words, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan — by the military then I would have to give the legal sign-off first. And so I did that.