Politics

Importing Our Terrorism

More than 65 percent of those convicted on terror-related charges since 9/11 were born abroad

Nearly 400 people convicted on terrorism-related charges since the Sept. 11 attacks — including two dozen who came as refugees — were born in foreign countries, according to a report released Wednesday by a Senate subcommittee.

The report comes after federal agencies ignored three requests by the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest to detail the immigration histories people convicted between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2014. The Justice Department provided the list of 580 people convicted on terror-related charges but deferred questions about where the convicts came from to the Department of Homeland Security. Of those, the subcommittee determined 65 percent were born abroad.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee had to piece this together, itself,” he said. “The real number is actually bigger.”

Using publicly available records, the subcommittee identified 380 people who were born abroad. Another 71 people were born in the United States, while the committee could not determine the status of another 129 people. Of the U.S. citizens on the list, at least 100 were naturalized after initially coming through one of America’s immigration programs.

“Because the Subcommittee does not have access to the Administration’s databases and files, it continues to lack critical information on most of the individuals on the list,” Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Additionally, the list provided by the Department of Justice does not include cases that are sealed, have otherwise not been made public, or that have been handled strictly through civil immigration proceedings [as terror cases often are].”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the number of foreign-born terrorists is higher than he would have thought. He questioned why the federal government does not keep such statistics as a routine matter, in a publicly available format.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee had to piece this together, itself,” he said. “The real number is actually bigger.”

According to the subcommittee, at least 24 of the convicts were refugees and 17 were the U.S.-born children of immigrants. At least 33 came on visas and remained after they expired.

[lz_table title=”Terrorists Born Abroad” source=”Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest”]
|Convicted 9/11/01 to 12/31/14
|Country,Convicted
Pakistan,62
Palestinians,22
Somalia,21
Yemen,20
Iraq,19
Egypt,17
Jordan,16
Afghanistan,10
[/lz_table]

Of those who were born in other countries, the most — 62 — came from Pakistan. The next-highest number came from Lebanon (28), followed by the Palestinian territories (22), Somalia (21), and Yemen (19).

Sessions said in the statement that the numbers highlight a serous assimilation problem in the United States.

[lz_jwplayer video= “gZR39Y82″ ads=”true”]

“Yet, the Obama administration has not only refused to provide the requested immigration information of these individuals, but it persists in its desire to continue admitting more aliens from many of these high-risk areas of the world, including at least 6,000 more Syrian refugees between now and Sept. 30,” he stated.

Beyond the cost of relocating refugees — Krikorian pointed to research by his organization indicating that the United States could help 11 refugees in the Middle East for every one it beings to the United States — he said the terrorism cases plainly contradict assurances by Obama that the government can vet would-be refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. “Those assurances are false,” he said.

[lz_related_box id=”158969″]

It is impossible to prevent everyone who might do harm to the United States from entering the country, Krikorian said. But he said the United States can increase the odds by ending an immigration lottery that randomly selects people from all over the world, and by reducing chain immigration that gives preference to people with relatives living in the United States.

“It’s an indication of a frivolous approach to immigration,” he said. “Our ability to screen out terrorists is limited … The people who are doing the screening are doing the best that they can.”

Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz this month sent a letter to Obama demanding that he order administration officials to comply with their requests in three previous letters since last August.

“Nevertheless, these data make clear that the United States not only lacks the ability to properly screen individuals prior to their arrival, but also that our nation has an unprecedented assimilation problem,” they wrote.

Join the Discussion

Comments are currently closed.