Obama Administration’s Much-Touted Counterterrorism Screening Fails

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

San Bernardino Shooter Passed DHS Counterterrorism Background Check

Heck of a job, Department of Homeland Security:

Federal investigators believe there is a “very serious” possibility that Tashfeen Malik, one of two shooters who murdered 14 people and wounded 21 others in San Bernardino, Calif. Wednesday, radicalized her husband and co-assailant, county restaurant inspector Syed Farook, Fox News has learned. 

Investigators also believe that the couple had planned a second attack after the shooting at a social service center for the disabled when they were killed in a shootout with local authorities approximately two miles away…

Officials said Thursday that Malik underwent and passed a Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism screening as part of the process of getting the K-1 visa. The visa would have been effective for 90 days, after which Malik would have had to apply for green card status through the Department of Homeland Security as the wife of an American. It was not immediately clear whether she did so.

Hey, where else have we heard about the Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism screening lately? Oh, that’s right, when the White House was assuring us about how great DHS would be at weeding out any terrorists or criminals from the Syrian refugees:

​​U.S. security agencies screen the candidate, including:

  • National Counterterrorism Center/Intelligence Community
  • FBI
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • State Department

The screening looks for indicators, like:

  • Information that the individual is a security risk
  • Connections to known bad actors
  • Outstanding warrants/immigration or criminal violations

DHS conducts an enhanced review of Syrian cases, which may be referred to USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate for review. Research that is used by the interviewing officer informs lines of question related to the applicant’s eligibility and credibility.

Oh, and when the White House was assuring us about the visa waiver program.

Every prospective VWP traveler undergoes counterterrorism screening and must receive approval through DHS’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Through ESTA, DHS evaluates whether individuals are eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP before they are allowed to board a carrier bound for the United States.

The counterterrorism screening draws on information from U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. DHS uses this information to decide if the travel poses any law enforcement or security risks.  Without DHS approval through ESTA, VWP travelers cannot travel to the United States and must appear in person for a visa interview before they can be authorized to travel to the United States.

If you’re wondering where they learned to make pipe bombs…

Law enforcement sources tell CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton the suspects’ explosive devices owned by California shooters Syed Rizwan, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, are nearly a carbon copy of bomb constructing instructions provided for in one of the very first issues of al Qaeda’s online magazine, INSPIRE, entitled “How To Build A Bomb In the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

At their home, they had 12 pipe bombs, tools for making more such explosives, and over 3,000 more rounds of ammunition, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.

The bombs in their various stages were made of the ingredients provided for in terrorists’ groups INSPIRE magazine, including Christmas tree lights to serve as a fuse, radio controlled toys to be used as a triggering mechanism and smokeless gun powder, according to the source.

“Eh, well, we can’t catch them all” is not going to be good enough.

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