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Thune: ISIS a threat to United States

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., called for the destruction of the terrorist group known as ISIS — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"These forces continue to carry out horrific atrocities," Thune told reporters in a conference all. "They've got to be stopped. They've got to be sought out and destroyed wherever they are operating."

As he remembered serving in the U.S. House and calling home to his family South Dakota when al-Qaeda terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, he said ISIS poses a similar threat to the homeland.

"Anybody who does not think this group is a threat to the United States has forgotten the lessons of 9-11," Thune said.

The fight continues, Thune said, as he remembered promising his then 11-year-old daughter that America would "get the bad guys."

"It's going to take a broad coalition of people from around the world," Thune said.

Thune did not say he supports deploying American combat troops to the Mideast, but he said he hopes the Iraqi Army, the Free Syrian Army and Kurdish Peshmerga troops will fulfill that role.

Thune said he has signed onto a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry seeking details about the United States' plan to monitor American citizens who have joined ISIS in the Mideast region.

"We're seeking answers on how this administration is monitoring U.S. passport-holders fighting alongside ISIS and how they are preventing them from returning to America," Thune said.

Thune said passports can be revoked, and he is seeking information about whether these individuals are on the no-fly list.

Flood insurance

Thune said that with newly upgraded levees along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek in the Sioux Falls region, FEMA should quickly update its floodplain maps so that some 1,600 affected homeowners and businesses in the area can see lower premiums for the flood insurance they are required to purchase.

"I'm hearing it could take up to two years to complete a new map, which I find totally unacceptable," Thune said.

Railroad backlog

Thune said that as part of continued attention to a backlog in grains and other products needing to be shipped out of South Dakota by rail, a bill he has co-sponsored will be marked up by the Senate Commerce Committee on Sept. 17. The bill would streamline operations for the Surface Transportation Board so the oversight agency can respond more quickly when problems arise, he said.

"Right now, they are hamstrung in many ways. By streamlining the operations, it will enable them to be more proactive when it comes to addressing some of the rail service issues we face in this country," Thune said.