Fatally flawed vetting process provided Somali-born terrorist with citizenship and U.S. passport.
February 28, 2018
Here we go again. Yet another newly-naturalized United States citizen has been convicted of traveling to Syria to receive terror training, fight on the side of al-Nusrah Front, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, and provide material support to that terrorist organization. He was additionally convicted of lying to an FBI agent.
On January 23, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press release, Ohio Man Sentenced for Providing Material Support to Terrorists, Making False Statements to Authorities.
That “Ohio man” was Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a native of Somalia.
I have written about this case in two previous articles, A Terrorist and Naturalization Fraud and How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations. As I noted in the first of those two commentaries, Mohamud committed fraud when he lied on his application for his U.S. passport by claiming he intended to travel to Greece when, in reality, he traveled to Syria. Furthermore, lying on his application for U.S. citizenship also constitutes fraud. Under Title 18 U.S. Code § 1425 (Procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully) the punishment for this crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years, when this crime is committed in conjunction with terrorism. This is a much greater penalty than he faced for lying to an FBI agent.
Of far greater consequence than the potential longer jail sentence than he faced for lying to an FBI agent, is that conviction for committing fraud in his applications for citizenship would have stripped him of his citizenship and subject him to deportation (removal) from the United States. Yet he was not charged with this crime.
The flawed immigration adjudications process, by which Mohamud was granted U.S. citizenship, provided him with material support by enabling him to legally obtain a U.S. passport that facilitated his travel to Syria. In fact, in reviewing communications with his brother, the issue of his becoming a United States citizen, thereby enabling him to obtain that U.S. passport, emerged as an integral part of his plan to travel to Syria, receive training and return to the United States to carry out a deadly terror attack.
Around the world, the U.S. passport is considered the premier travel document. Consider this statement from Chapter 12 of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:
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.
Unfortunately, this case is not unusual and is only one of ever so many other cases where aliens successfully gamed the immigration system to gain various immigration benefits that enabled them to remain in the United States to support terrorism or even carry out deadly terrorist attacks.
All applicants for U.S. citizenship are supposed to undergo a Good Moral Character investigation in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Mohamud naturalized just months before heading off to terror training in Syria. Yet the Good Moral Character investigation failed to uncover his involvement with terrorism. President Trump stated that all DACA illegal aliens who would be provided lawful status and a pathway to citizenship wold have to undergo a Good Moral Character investigation. How meaningful would those investigations truly be?
Consider that on January 16, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press jointly with the DHS:
DOJ, DHS Report: Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign-Born.
That press release noted that:
The report reveals that at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016. An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born. Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:
• 254 were not U.S. citizens;• 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,• 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
According to information available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since September 11, 2001, there were approximately 1,716 removals of aliens with national security concerns.
It is more than a bit disconcerting that 148 naturalized citizens were convicted of terrorism-related crimes. How many of them had been naturalized even as they went about their nefarious goals, as did Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud? Remember, all aliens who naturalize are supposed to undergo Good Moral Character investigations, the most extensive investigation that is generally conducted for immigration-related benefits.
In the weeks and months after 9/11 we were constantly told by our leaders that for terrorists to succeed they only needed to “get it right” once. For us to be safe, our government needed to be right100% of the time. Every application for a visa or an immigration benefit provides the terrorists with that one opportunity they are seeking.
Members of the U.S. Senate are now debating the “solution” to the illegal aliens who were granted temporary lawful status under the illegal DACA (Deferred Action- Childhood Arrivals) program implemented by the Obama administration as an end-run around the Constitution and the legislative process when first Comprehensive Immigration Reform and then the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) failed to pass.
President Trump and the members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate must consider the irrefutable fact that the adjudications process has frequently failed to uncover fraud about material facts that had a direct bearing on the aliens’ eligibility for the immigration benefits for which they applied. Indeed, aliens who have been linked to terrorism, including those involved in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, committed serial immigration fraud.
Before considering a couple of important quotes from the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel, we need to consider that on January 25, 2017 President Trump issued one of his very first Executive Orders. In issuing Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the president not only kept an important campaign promise but also took a strong, commonsense approach to the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
The end of the first section of that executive order ends with these two sentences:
We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.
DACA aliens certainly qualifies as a huge “class or category of removable aliens” to which President Trump referred in his executive order. Furthermore there is no way of knowing just how many illegal aliens would apply. The President has said that 1.8 million illegal aliens would qualify while the Migration Policy Institute pegs the number at twice that, at 3.8 million.
In reality, a multiple of that number might actually apply- with no in-person interviews and no capability to conduct field investigations, fraud would likely permeate the entire program.
Having raised the issue of fraud, it must be remembered that the the official report, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel included these two paragraphs:
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.
Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.
ICE routinely conducts investigations that involve national security/terrorism. A review of ICE news releases about such investigations provides insight into the challenges these cases create for the beleaguered employees of the DHS.
America is not only facing the threat of international terrorism but the threats posed by transnational gangs. To gain insight into the scope of the threats and challenges that these gangs pose, review the news releases posted by ICE about gang-related investigations. A number of “DREAMERS” have been found to have ties to violent gangs such as MS-13.
To truly put America and Americans first, a reliable vetting process and capability must be created before the president and congress even think about providing lawful status to unknown millions of illegal and unvetted aliens.