WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal lawmakers will take up legislation on terrorism financing in the first months of 2016, as last week’s shootings in California move them to act quickly, the chairman of a major U.S. House of Representatives committee told reporters on Thursday.
The bill will be introduced “fairly early next year,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas.
He would not give details of the legislation. He did say that in the past the committee had delved into links between international organized crime and the financing.
Hensarling said the committee was crafting legislation before Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a holiday party and killed 14 people in the California city of San Bernardino, an attack law enforcement is investigating as terrorism.
Now it will hold public and classified hearings on the Dec. 2 massacre to see if it needs to make any changes to the bill.
The committee on Wednesday reauthorized its task force to study how money flows to militants and backs acts of violence.
“Clearly the financing link to terrorism is a critical one,” Hensarling said. “Sooner or later the funds that are used in these terrorist acts, by and large, enter the financial system. And we are looking at points where they enter.”
At the moment, the committee is in “fact-finding mode,” looking into a large deposit made to Farook’s bank account by Webbank.com as well as transfers to Farook’s mother, he also said.
When asked if the legislation would increase scrutiny of online lending, given that Utah-based Webbank.com is a major player in online loans, Hensarling only said “everything’s on the table.”
Islamic militant groups had ignored contact attempts from Pakistan-born Malik in the months leading up to the shootings, which also injured 21 people, and a U.S. government source has said there is currently no evidence that the couple plotted with anyone under federal investigation with ties to terrorism.
Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Lisa Shumaker