Many media outlets have covered the crisis in Libya, but few have identified how the crisis can profoundly jeopardize our homeland security. But make no mistake about it: our engagement in Libya opens our nation up to various threats and risks of destabilization. Are we prepared?
Looking back at the 1970’s, we witness that anytime civil unrest occurs abroad, the U.S. State Department implements a very unique program: mass asylum initiatives. Designed to help relieve the burden of conflict and provide some needed respite for those deserving of humanitarian and political sanctuary, the mass asylum initiatives were established with the best of intentions. However, the assumption of responsibility on our part to provide support has also led to naivete and oversight of what is now a severely crippled program.
Central America witnessed great atrocities throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Approximately 75,000 persons were killed in El Salvador, 60,000 or more killed in Nicaragua, and 100,000 deaths resulted in Guatemala – all due to civil uprisings fueled by political corruption. The U.S. State Department granted mass asylum to thousands of individuals from these nations. Interestingly enough, some of those who were granted privileges to reside in the U.S. turned to gang life, which created the world’s largest street gang known as Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13). MS 13 formed in Los Angles, California due to “street persecution” amongst rival Mexican street gangs like 18th Street.
Outnumbered, lack of weapons, and due to a need for survival, MS 13 recruited more and more Central American natives to the United States by recognizing and beating the corrupted U.S. asylum process. To date, they have built the world’s largest street gang, which is now transitioning into a fully functioning terrorist organization. Not only does MS 13 work alongside narco terrorists, some of their foot soldiers have been known to collaborate with Hezbollah and Hamas cells located in Mexican border cities like Tijuana.
Central America is not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are Albanian, entered the United States during President Clinton’s Bosnian War. Many were initially airlifted out of Bosnia/Kosovo on U.S. military cargo aircraft, taken to Fort Dix for processing, and then later released to integrate into the free and prosperous domains of America.
While the majority fulfilled peaceful livelihoods, some eventually left the United States to fulfill their Jihad, in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Uzbekistan as foreign terrorist fighters operating within Al Qaeda. Three of the Duka brothers along with Agron Abdullahu from the infamous “Fort Dix Six” were actual Albanian Muslims whose families at one time manipulated and abused the United States asylum process.
The State Department asylum approach is obviously broken. Between 1983 and 2004, 55,000 Somali’s entered the United States thanks to the broken U.S. State Department asylum initiative. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Somali youth have turned to gang life. It is known that at least 45 Somali males who once lived freely inside the United States have returned to their motherland of Somalia to fight alongside the Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabaab.
Somali gang members living inside the U.S. are often targeted by local Imams. Disenfranchisement, due to confusing identity crises they face not knowing whether they are American, Somali, or Islamists, has made them key targets for Jihadi recruitment. They become easily manipulated and socially conditioned. Because they lack parental influence and social acceptance, they become key assets to later be brainwashed, used, and killed.
Shy of Christmas 2010, Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in Portland, Oregon. His target was any and all Americans celebrating the city Christmas tree lighting ceremony. He was recruited by a Middle Easterner, manipulated, and socially conditioned like many Somali youth living inside the United States. His family was one of thousands of Somali families granted asylum to live inside the United States.
While not asylum related, last summer, when attending language training at Lackland AFB, seventeen Afghan pilots went AWOL inside the United States. This was also another U.S. State Department led initiative in coordination with other U.S. government institutions. There is an obvious trend.
Based on the obvious, it’s fair to assume that with due time, the United States government will implement some type of asylum program for the people of Libya. Will these individuals turn to gang life similar to MS 13 or any of the seventeen plus Somali gangs, like the Madhibaan with Attitude? Of most concern, will any of the Libyans skip the U.S. gang life as the “Ft Dix Six” did and simply engage in Jihad? If they do turn to Islamic Jihad, what will stop them from emulating Mohamed Osman Mohamud engaging Jihad deep inside the heartland of America?
Asylum is needed, it is deserving, and it must be done with security in mind. Many would assume that advanced government initiatives need to be instituted for the asylees and maybe they do. The United States is a country embraced by “We the People.” Our government should not be relied upon rather “We the People” need to implement societal endeavors ensuring not only the assistance needed for the asylees but also the security oversight ensuring we remain a free and peaceful nation.
Kerry Patton has served in the U.S. Defense and Justice departments, and as a contractor within the Homeland Security and State departments. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.”
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