Terrorists Value U.S. Citizenship More Than Our Politicians Do

The dangerous lack of scrutiny of those gaining legal status to the U.S.

635673295821494930-0515-abood Bilal Abood

Rampant, blind greed warps the perspectives of those who suffer from that ailment. Consider politicians who have declared that aliens who trespass on the United States and evade the inspections process conducted at ports of entry are “entitled” to United States citizenship or, at the very least, lawful status.

The outrageous view ignores both commonsense and the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and the 9/11 Commission Staff.

Our borders and our immigration laws are America's first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals, but you would never know this by reading most newspapers or watching most “news programs” in the mainstream media. You also would not learn the true importance of our borders and our immigration laws if you listened to Mr. Obama, leaders of his administration ranging from Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security or Loretta Lynch, the newly confirmed Attorney General.

You also would not learn this by listening to the mayors and governors who have declared their cities and states to be “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens and are providing them with driver's licenses and municipal identity documents.

On the May 15, 2015, CNN posted a report, "Terror arrest in Texas shows new stance after Garland" that began with this statement,

Washington (CNN) The FBI on Thursday arrested an Iraqi-born American citizen in Texas, alleging he traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS terrorists and returned to the U.S.

The case against Bilal Abood is one indication of federal counterterrorism officials' new stance on terrorism cases in light of the recent foiled terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, against a Mohammed cartoon contest event.

Prosecutors charged Abood with lying to the FBI, but the case represents much more. Abood is one of hundreds of people the FBI is monitoring in some way, many of whom investigators suspect could be motivated to carry out attacks but though the evidence remains difficult to assemble.

Abood, who formerly worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Iraq, migrated to the U.S. in 2009.

The FBI alleges that agents stopped Abood as he tried to travel in 2013, when he claimed he was planning to visit family in Iraq.

He later told the FBI in an interview in 2013 that he actually was planning to travel to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army, a rebel faction fighting the Assad regime that has in the past enjoyed some U.S. support.

Abood later left the U.S. for Turkey via Mexico, the FBI alleges.

He returned months later and claimed to the FBI that he had been fighting with the FSA.

The CNN report and other reports about this case neglected to make some important connections.

Bilal Abood purportedly immigrated legally to the United States in 2009 and subsequently became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He had worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. He also showed some real sophistication in traveling to the Middle East from Mexico. It must be presumed that he entered Mexico with his U.S. passport. It is likely that had he attempted entry with his original Iraqi passport, the Mexican immigration authorities would have been reluctant to admit him.

Let me begin by being very clear: Mr. Abood enjoys the presumption of innocence at this point and therefore he may have worked loyally and with great integrity. Until he is found guilty, we must not presume anything about his conduct as a translator. I am simply concerned that a former translator is now the target of a prosecution about involvement with a violent anti-American terror organization.

A translator occupies an extremely sensitive position. I am extremely familiar this having worked with translators and interpreters throughout my 30-year career with the former INS.

Translators have access to our officials and to the people with whom our officials interact and need to communicate with. This could involve suspected terrorists and insurgents. This could also include people seeking to provide information to our military.

A translator is the eyes, ears and mouth of the people they work with. They are in a position to alter the questions and answers being exchanged during an interview. They often have access to sensitive documents. They are in the position to know who is attempting to cooperate with our government, and this could put these people's lives and the lives of their family members in immediate jeopardy.

They can feed false information (disinformation) to our intelligence officials that could get Americans killed.

The adjudications process for his application for citizenship should be scrutinized, but, given the posture of the administration, and given previous similar cases, it is unlikely that this will be done.

On February 24, 2015, Progressives For Immigration Reform posted my article, "The Immigration Factor – Naturalized U.S. Citizen Added to FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List" that was predicated on a January 29, 2015 FBI press release, "Naturalized U.S. Citizen Born in Somalia Added to FBI List."

Here are three brief paragraphs from that FBI press release:

Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, has been named to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, and a reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Mohamed is charged with providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization.

Traveling with his U.S. passport, Mohamed is thought to have left the United States on or about July 5, 2012. Before his departure, the 29-year-old lived in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. where he worked as a cab driver.

It is important for us to locate Mohamed because he has knowledge of the Washington, D.C. area’s infrastructure such as shopping areas, Metro, airports, and government buildings. This makes him an asset to his terrorist associates who might plot attacks on U.S. soil.

This is not the first time that a translator was charged with involvement with a terrorist organization.

In my April 6, 2015 commentary for FrontPage Magazine, "Connecting the Dots: Iran, Immigration & National Security » How Obama is empowering state sponsors of terror — and weakening our first line of defense,” I discussed, among other issues, the case of Wissam Allouche, a former translator for the U.S. military in the Middle East.

Both the Blaze and My San Antonio published articles about him. The title of the Blaze article was, “God of Death Bombshell Revelations About Alleged Hezbollah Commander Arrested In Texas.”

The article published in My San Antonio, “Accused Ex-Hezbollah Member Referred to as God,” included the following excerpt:

Allouche was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force here last week after being indicted on charges of not disclosing, during his quest to obtain his U.S. citizenship, his membership in the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s.

He’s also charged with not disclosing his prior membership in those groups when he applied for a security clearance with the Defense Department as he sought a contracting job.

Before 2009, Allouche worked for L-3 Communications, which provides linguistic services for the U.S. military, and he was deployed for several months to Iraq. He has lived in the U.S. since about 2002, and once owned Windcrest Mobil, a gas station at Walzem Road and Interstate 35, his lawyer said.

On April 20, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations » A chilling case-in-point from Ohio.”

Four days later Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) posted my article, "Prosecutorial Discretion Would Enable Terrorist to Remain in the U.S.," which reported on the very same case,

On April 16, 2015, a Federal Grand Jury in the Southern District of Ohio (Eastern Division) handed up a criminal indictment charging a naturalized United States citizen, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud a/k/a “Ayanle,” a native of Somalia, with three federal crimes: 18 U.S.C. 2339A, providing material support to terrorists (Count 1); 18 U.S.C. 2339B, providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Count 2); and 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2), issuing a false statement involving international terrorism (Count 3).

The significant issue is that Mohamud is a naturalized United States citizen who acquired U.S. citizenship just weeks before he traveled to Syria to meet up with his brother who was already in Syria fighting on the side of terrorists hostile to the United States. The indictment contained information about electronic communication between the two brothers about the strategy of having Mohamud become a United States citizen so that he would obtain a U.S. passport to facilitate his travel to Syria.

His brother was killed in combat and Mohamud returned to the United States apparently intent on using the training he received inside the United States to acquire guns and kill U.S. soldiers and others.

The significant issue is that given these circumstances he should have been indicted for committing fraud in his application for citizenship so that he could be stripped of his citizenship, presuming, of course, that he is convicted of these crimes. This would enable the U.S. government to deport him. Otherwise when he is released from prison, should he be convicted and sentenced to a period of incarceration, he will be free to remain in the United States for the balance of his life.

Removing (deporting) him from the United States would be in the best interests of national security and public safety. Yet, thus far, at least, he has not been charged with naturalization fraud.

Effective immigration law enforcement can be an effective weapon in our arsenal against international terrorists and transnational criminals. On the other hand, failures to secure our borders and enforce and administer our immigration laws with meaningful integrity can turn that weapon against America and Americans.

Instead, the administration has orchestrated the undermining of the immigration system and, as a consequence, is flooding our nation with millions of foreign nationals who have no inherent right to enter the United States. This not only violates commonsense but the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud, including political asylum fraud to enter the United States to embed themselves in the United States.

Page 54 of this report contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot” that makes this issue crystal clear:

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

In my judgment, that statement about the nexus between immigration and national security was so important and fundamental that I included it in my prepared testimony when, on March 10, 2005, I testified before a hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic, "Interior immigration enforcement resources."

We also know that some of these aliens actually went on to acquire United States citizenship. Consider the April 20, 2013 New York Times article, "F.B.I. Interview Led Homeland Security to Hold Up Citizenship for One Brother," which reported on how Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a naturalized citizen while his brother, Tamerlan, had his application put on hold.

Consider this excerpt from the NY Times article:

It had been previously reported that Mr. (Tamerlan) Tsarnaev’s application might have been held up because of a domestic abuse episode. But the officials said that it was the record of the F.B.I. interview that threw up red flags and halted, at least temporarily, Mr. Tsarnaev’s citizenship application. Federal law enforcement officials reported on Friday that the F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Tsarnaev in January 2011 at the request of the Russian government, which suspected that he had ties to Chechen terrorists.

The officials pointed to the decision to hold up that application as evidence that his encounter with the F.B.I. did not fall through the cracks in the vast criminal and national security databases that the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. review as a standard requirement for citizenship. The application, which Mr. Tsarnaev presented on Sept. 5, also prompted “additional investigation” of him this year by federal law enforcement agencies, according to the officials. They declined to say how far that examination had progressed or what it covered.

The handling of Mr. Tsarnaev’s application could be crucial for the Obama administration in the Senate debate that began this week over a bipartisan bill, which the president supports, for a sweeping immigration overhaul. Some Republicans skeptical of the bill have said they will watch the Boston bombings investigation to see if it reveals security lapses in the immigration system that should be closed before Congress proceeds to other parts of the bill, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The record of the F.B.I. interview was enough to cause Homeland Security to hold up Mr. Tsarnaev’s application. He presented those papers several weeks after he returned from a six-month trip overseas, primarily to Russia, and only six days after his brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, had his own citizenship application approved. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody and is in serious condition in a hospital.

What was neglected in the report is the fact that both Tsarnaev brothers and other members of their family had been granted political asylum. In order to apply for asylum they needed to articulate “credible fear” that if they returned to their home country, Russia, they would face serious persecution, or worse. The fact that there had been no regime change since they had been granted asylum, but, nevertheless, returned to Russia, should have caused DHS to have opened a fraud investigation into their claims to seek to strip them of lawful status including, where appropriate, citizenship and then seek their deportation from the United States.

The article noted that this case should cause “Congress to watch the investigations to see if it reveals security lapses in the immigration system.” The issue is why the word “if” was included in that sentence. Of course there was a serious lapse -- one that is still not being addressed and that plays out day after day as USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) adjudicates more than 6 million applications each and every year with scant integrity.

Failures of the immigration system are a major factor in this terror attack that cost four innocent people their lives and caused grievous physical harm to hundreds of innocent people.

Similar failures also figured prominently in other terror attacks in the United States.

Failures of the immigration system that should have been addressed immediately after the attacks of 9/11 have not only not been addressed, but the failures have only been exacerbated while Hillary Clinton promises to go beyond Obama's illegal immigration executive actions.

Meanwhile the current crop of Republican leaders and candidates for the Presidency have failed to dare address the nexus between immigration and national security.

The first step in problem solving is to acknowledge that there is a problem and then identify all of the elements of that problem. With so much hanging in the balance it is time our leaders actually acted as leaders and lived up to their oaths of office.

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