This week al-Shabaab, the Somali Islamic terrorist group, advertised its intent to attack the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., among other targets. Whether al-Shabaab has the capability or adherents in the area to carry out such an attack isn’t clear. But one thing is: Our federal government doesn’t do nearly enough to keep potential allies of groups like al-Shabaab out of the United States. Especially notorious is the flow of refugees from war-torn, predominantly Islamic Somalia, but a whole raft of refugee and asylum programs present concerns.
There are several documented instances of Somalis who, given safe haven by our country, left America to join and fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia, that lawless and lost land, and even with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Liban Haji Mohamed, a former Somali refugee who later naturalized, is the most recent addition to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, for his activities in support of al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. One of the Kenya mall attackers was a former refugee who had lived in Minnesota.
Unfortunately, turncoat Somalis are not alone, as refugee communities go. Here are just a few other examples:
‐Six Bosnian Muslims from St. Louis, Chicago, and Utica, N.Y., were arrested a few weeks ago for providing material support to ISIS.
‐Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, a naturalized former Palestinian refugee, was arrested late last year for concealing her participation in terror bombings in Israel when she applied for citizenship.
‐Similarly, former Afghan refugee Hayatullah Dawari got as far as naturalization before his lies caught up with him, his involvement with Islamist terror group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin was discovered, and the government moved to denaturalize him.
‐The two brothers who committed the Boston Marathon attacks were Dagestani-Chechen, and also happy recipients of generous refugee policies, aided by their father’s lies of persecution in pursuit of admission to the U.S., even though he later returned, leaving them behind to commit mass murder.
This story repeats itself nearly ad infinitum, particularly across the spectrum of nationalities once referred to as “special-interest countries,” i.e., dangerous ones — a term eliminated both officially and unofficially by the Obama administration. Apparently that phrase crossed the same line of political correctness that “Islamic extremist terrorism” does — a line drawn in concrete that seems more important to the president and his cabinet than identifying existential threats.
The number of aliens from special-interest countries since 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks, has been huge. If one calculates using Homeland Security statistics, in the decade between 2001 and 2011, more than 2.5 million aliens from special-interest countries were admitted as nonimmigrants or refugees/asylees or were granted permanent residence.
Interestingly, in this most opaque of administrations, the response to these disconcerting numbers hasn’t been to cut back on the flow of refugees; instead, these days, the administration simply enumerates the top 10 countries of refugee admission and then dumps the vast majority into the category “All other countries including unknown,” thus preventing a meaningful breakdown. Even so, among the top 10 in 2013, one finds Iraq, Somalia, Iran, and Sudan.
To be clear: The problem isn’t that every special-interest alien admitted is a terrorist, or that there aren’t legitimate refugees among those nationals. (Some, indeed, have helped us in the fight against terrorism.) The problem is that the government’s vetting procedures have repeatedly been shown to be ineffectual and inadequate to the task. This systemic failure, when married with shockingly generous admission policies for aliens from geographic areas where extremist philosophies abound, virtually guarantees a continuing series of arrests of jihadists, real or intended, in our midst.
The government claims that risk management is at the core of its homeland-security strategy. The place to begin to mitigate that risk is at the beginning, where the migratory and refugee flows occur — outside the homeland, not inside it and after the fact.
— Dan Cadman is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a retired INS/ICE official with 30 years of government experience.