Many of our political leaders from both political parties have, since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, declared, “We are fighting them (the terrorists) over there so that we won’t have to fight them over here.”
You have to question if these supposed leaders have ever studied geography. The three locations associated with the attacks of 9⁄11 were all inside the United States.
It is beyond delusional to not understand that this war on terror must be fought inside our borders as well as overseas. Indeed, we must also fight this war in cyberspace as well. Truly this is a war that must be fought here, there and everywhere.
We have had a succession of attempted terror attacks carried out inside the United States, including the failed SUV bomb attack carried out on May 10, 2010 by Faisal Shahzad at Times Square and the deadly Boston Marathon bombing by the Tsarnaev brothers on April 15, 2013.
On December 2, 2015 Syed Rizwan Farook, reportedly a U.S.-born citizen of Pakistani parents, and his immigrant wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out a horrific murderous terror attack in San Bernardino, California.
For our geographically challenged politicians, San Bernardino, California is located “over here.” It is remarkable that some of the very same politicians who decry the fact that Obama refuses to use the term “Radical Islamic Terrorists” play games about where the war on terror needs to be fought.
It is time to get real and accept what should be obvious – radical Islamic terrorists are at war with our nation and our way of life and they are operating inside the United State as well as overseas.
The importance of accepting that the war is being fought within our borders as well as in other countries is that our government’s strategic responses need to take this extremely significant fact into account, since this threat imperils the lives of Americans over here, throughout the United States.
Further amplifying the message that the war on terror must be successfully fought over here is the December 1, 2015 article published in The Hill, “Analysis: US support for ISIS ‘unprecedented,’” which was predicated on a study released by academics at George Washington University about how ISIS was gaining unprecedented support inside the United States.
Here is an important quote from that article:
Intelligence and law enforcement officials have repeatedly warned that ISIS’s fluency on the Internet has made it attractive to disaffected Americans who grow radicalized online.
Critics of the Obama administration’s increasing focus on extremists online say that federal officials arrest people who would be unable to carry out plots on their own.
FBI Director James Comey has previously said that federal officials have launched ISIS-related investigations in all 50 states.
According to the GWU data, 71 Americans have been arrested for crimes linked to the extremist group since March 2014. Of those, 86 percent were male, 27 percent were involved in plots to launch attacks on U.S. soil and the average age was 26. Roughly half attempted to travel abroad or succeeded in doing so, and the vast majority were U.S. citizens or permanent residents. More than half were arrested in a sting operation involving an undercover agent or an informant.
On December 1, 2015 I was a guest on Newsmax-TV’s program, The Hard Line- hosted by Ed Berliner. The topic of the segment was, “Is support for radical Islam growing in the US?”
Ed referred to supporters of ISIS as being “home grown.” I explained to him that there is a big difference between Americans who acquire citizenship by being born in the U.S. as compared with those who acquire citizenship through the naturalization process.
It is important to note that while some of those recruited by ISIS are native-born American citizens, the report describes the vast majority of those who sought to travel abroad as U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The question that might not be immediately apparent is whether or not the U.S. citizens had acquired their citizenship through birth in the United States or by naturalization.
Permanent residents were also identified as being among those seeking to travel overseas in conjunction with terrorism. Permanent residents are aliens who have been issued Green Cards (Alien Registration Receipt Cards) and are on the path to citizenship. Often aliens engaged in terrorism seek lawful status as an embedding tactic. Acquiring United States citizenship provides terrorists with several important advantages that are almost never discussed in the media or by politicians.
A newly naturalized citizen is legally entitled to change his name at the time of being sworn in as a new citizen. That naturalized citizen’s United States passport will only reflect that person’s new name, effectively creating a sort of “witness protection” program for that person. I have raised this issue at congressional hearings and even during a discussion I had with former Secretary of Homeland Security, Mike Chertoff. I have never received a cogent response about this obvious vulnerability that could be quickly and easily resolved by having U.S. passports reflect a naturalized citizen’s original name as well as his new name.
Incredibly, the United States is hardly the only country to create this self-inflicted problem that not only undermines our national security but the security of the countries where these individuals travel.
A U.S. passport is also far less likely to arouse suspicion when naturalized citizens travel to other countries than would their original passport from Pakistan, Iran or other such Middle Eastern countries.
Additionally, by having two passports (most naturalized citizens are dual nationals who retain their original passport) these individuals are able to leave the United States on their American passport, travel to a European country and then, concealing their U.S. passport, continue their travels to another country – perhaps in the Middle East on their original passport, helping to conceal their travels the way a smuggler drags branches behind himself in sandy terrain to erase his boot prints in the desert.
In order to return to the United States the naturalized citizen reverses the process.
It should be obvious that through naturalization, an international terrorist is provided with a huge advantage in his/her quest to travel freely around the world and travel freely around the United States.
Consider this statement that is contained in Chapter 12 of the 9⁄11 Commission Report:
For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.In their travels, terrorists use evasive methods, such as altered and counterfeit passports and visas, specific travel methods and routes, liaisons with corrupt government officials, human smuggling networks, supportive travel agencies, and immigration and identity fraud. These can sometimes be detected.
That chapter of the “The 9⁄11 Commission Report” also contained the following statement:
All but one of the 9⁄11 hijackers acquired some form of U.S. identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.
By raising the issue of aliens engaged in terrorism acquiring lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship we have now entered the realm of immigration – and the issue that all too many of our politicians and journalists refuse to acknowledge: that immigration has a clear nexus to national security and our “war on terror.”
Immigration must be thought of as a double-edged sword that can defend us or wound us.
International terrorists who successfully defeat and/or game the immigration system, turn our defense mechanism into a weapon against us.
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 also to also embed themselves in the United States.
Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”
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.
The 9⁄11 Commission and its staff understood the need to effectively enforce our immigration laws to prevent the entry of international terrorists and to combat them when they managed to gain entry into the United States and embed themselves.
It is time for our government to harness this important weapon in our counterterrorism arsenal, not only to seek to prevent international terrorists from entering our country or deporting them when they are found inside the United States, but as a means of providing law enforcement with a window into the ethnic immigrant communities that harbor terrorists, providing opportunities to cultivate informants and cooperating witnesses among the immigrant communities to develop critical intelligence before the next attack.