Refugees , immigration and terror in the U.S.
In the wake of the  Kentucky case, the U.S. halted the refugee program for Iraqis for six months, a fact the Obama administration did not disclose to Congress at the time, officials told ABC News in the 2013 investigation.
– ABC News Report
The current debate over the admission of Syrian refugees focuses on the possibility that it will help facilitate the entry of terrorists into the U.S.
This view is based on the growing trend of Islamist immigrants in the U.S. that have been involved in terrorism in the last few years. The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Natural Interest reports that it has identified at least 26 foreign-born individuals inside the U.S. who have either been charged with or convicted of terrorism in the last year with even more examples going back to 2013. From an AL.com article by Leada Gore:
Sessions said U.S. officials have no access to Syrian government data to vet refugees and no capacity to predict whether those seeking refuge are likely to join militant groups. As proof of that, the Immigration Subcommittee, which Sessions chairs, provided a partial list of apprehended foreign-born terrorists or terror suspects since 2013:
- A Kazakhstani immigrant with lawful permanent resident status allegedly conspired to purchase a machine gun to shoot FBI and other law enforcement agents if they prevented him from traveling to Syria to join ISIS.
- An immigrant from Saudi Arabia, who applied for and received U.S. citizenship, swore allegiance to ISIS and pledged to explode a propane tank bomb on U.S. soil, prosecutors said.
- A Uzbek man in Brooklyn encouraged other Uzbeki nationals to wage jihad on behalf of ISIS, and raised $1,600 for the terror organization.
- The Boston Bombers, who killed three and injured more than 250, were invited in as refugees. The younger brother applied for citizenship and was naturalized on September 11th, 2012. The older brother had a pending application for citizenship.
- A Moroccan national who came to the U.S. on a student visa was arrested for plotting to blow up a university and a federal court house
- 6 Members of Minnesota’s Somali-American refugee community have recently been charged with trying to join ISIS. The Washington Times reported that “the effort [to resettle large groups of Somali refugees in Minnesota] is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.”
- An Uzbek refugee living in Idaho was arrested and charged with providing support to a terrorist organization, in the form of teaching terror recruits how to build bombs. He was later convicted three terrorism-related charges.
- An American citizen whose family is from Syria was sentenced to up to five years in a juvenile prison for plotting to support ISIS and rob a gun store to kill members of the American military.
- An immigrant from Syria, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was accused by federal prosecutors of planning to “go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”
- A college student and Somali immigrant, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, attempted to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon. He is serving a 30 year prison sentence.
- An immigrant from Afghanistan, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, and a legal permanent resident from the Philippines, were convicted for “join Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to kill Americans.”
- An Iraqi immigrant, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for lying to federal agents about pledging allegiance to ISIS and his travels to Syria. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott referenced the case when announcing his state would fight against accepting Syrian refugees.
- Two immigrants from Pakistan, who later applied for and received U.S citizenship, were sentenced to decades-long prison sentences for plotting to detonate a bomb in New York City.
- An immigrant from Yemen, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for trying to join ISIS. He was also charged with attempting to illegally buy firearms to try to shoot American military personnel. He is currently awaiting trial. He faces additional charges related to assaulting deputies while in custody.
- An immigrant brought here by his family from Kuwait at a young age, and who was later approved for U.S. citizenship, carried out the Islamist attack that recently killed 5 military personnel in Chattanooga. The gunman was killed by police.
Sessions said these incidents are just a few of those identified by his committee. They should serve as a warning against any plan for relocation of immigrants, especially those from Syria, he added.
The concerns have not been limited to the GOP. Several days ago, 47 House Democrats broke rank and joined with Republicans, voting for a bill aimed at pausing admittance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees by adding requirements to an already lengthy screening process. In the Senate, the Washington Post reported:
Longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, warned in a statement Tuesday “we need to be very careful about Syrian refugee admissions.”
The Hill reports that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama calling on him to not allow any more Syrians into the country “unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100 percent assurance they are not connected” to the Islamic State.
At least one Democratic was among the governors asking for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to stop until security concerns can be addressed.
UN records show a four fold increase (850,000) so far in 2015 of refugees entering Europe through the Mediterranean area compared to 2014 (216,000) with Syrians accounting for about 52% of the numbers. From the trend, the numbers will most likely be significantly higher by the end of 2015. While the vast majority will most likely settle in Europe, U.S. allocations have been steadily increasing.
We noted last year in “Resettlement: an Islamist path to the west?“, that according to U.S. Department of State refugee statistics, in 2007 Muslim countries accounted for about 20% of U.S. refugee admissions. In 2008 there was a marked increase, with well over 50% (35,000+) of refugee admissions coming from predominately Muslim countries. This repeated in 2009-2013 and the 2014 allocations authorize the increased level. For 2015, 12,000-15,000 Syrians alone, are projected for admission.
The Paris bombings raised the possibility that forged Syrian passports are being used by terrorists and this certainly brings up concerns as to the actual identify of those being processed as Syrian refugees. Earlier this week Bloomberg reported:
A Syrian passport found next to a suicide bomber in the Paris terror attacks may have been planted, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
Reports that the identity in the passport may have been registered in several countries along the so-called Balkan route raise the suspicion that it could be a deliberate attempt to implicate refugees and “make people feel unsafe,” de Maiziere said.
“There are indications that this was a planted lead, but it still can’t be ruled out that this was indeed an IS terrorist posing as a refugee,” he told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, referring to Islamic State, which France blames for organizing the violence.
Any link between France’s worst terror attack since World War II and Europe’s refugee crisis would raise the stakes for Chancellor Angela Merkel as she defends her open-door policy for asylum seekers in Germany’s debate over immigration and security.
Syrian refugee proponents are proclaiming there has not been one terrorist act by a refugee in the United States. When presented with the case of the Boston Bombers, these proponents counter that the Tsarnaev brothers were not really refugees.
An example of this can be found in a recent article on Reason.com that attempts to label GOP politicians as “Fearmongers”. Ronald Bailey writes:
Note: Several commenters suggested Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who committed the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, were refugees. Strictly speaking, they were the children of asylees. As Bloomberg News explained the two were given “derivative asylum status” and didn’t come through the refugee admissions program. Apparently the legal distinction is too fine a point for some readers. So be it, but they should nevertheless keep in mind that the brothers were two people out around 1.8 million people who were granted refugee or asylee status between 1995 and 2013.
This dismissal conflicts with a recent Dailymail.com article that notes:
Six Bosnian immigrants, three from Missouri, two from Illinois and one from New York, were charged in February with sending money and military equipment to extremist groups in Syria including ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.
Last year we reported on the case of Bosnian refugee Edin Sakoc, 54, of Burlington, VT (a naturalized U.S. citizen) who was facing charges of lying to immigration authorities about his involvement in war crimes as well as bribery.
In 2013, an ABC news report detailed the 2009 discovery of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky — who later admitted in court that they’d attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq:
An intelligence tip initially led the FBI to Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, in 2009. The Iraqi had claimed to be a refugee who faced persecution back home — a story that shattered when the FBI found his fingerprints on a cordless phone base that U.S. soldiers dug up in a gravel pile south of Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005. The phone base had been wired to unexploded bombs buried in a nearby road.
An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.
This week, ABC reported that, “Of the 31 states that have declared their opposition to taking in Syrian refugees, one state, Kentucky, has a specific reason to be wary of the background check process.” This caused the U.S. to halt the refugee program for Iraqis for six months, a fact the Obama administration did not disclose to Congress at the time.