How good is our immigration system at screening out terrorists?
A reminder from, of all places, CNN, that it’s really useless at it even when the terrorist was investigated and convicted by an allied country, Israel, he was still able to move to America and become a United States citizen.
A one-time Islamic jihadist who spent years in an Israeli prison for attempting to bomb a bus was granted US citizenship and allowed to remain in the country for nearly a decade as federal authorities investigated his background, CNN has learned.
The case of convicted terrorist-turned-US-citizen Vallmoe Shqaire raises questions not only about how Shqaire slipped past the enhanced vetting process implemented after 9/11, but also about why US law enforcement did not act more swiftly once his deception was discovered.
1. The system is useless
2. No one actually cares
We don’t vet people. We go through the mentions. Just ask the 9/11 hijackers whose visa forms could just as easily have been filled out by dogs. And Islamic terrorists have plenty of sympathizers which ensures that they will get a free and easy pass in most situations and cases.
Federal authorities have been aware since at least 2010 that Shqaire was arrested on a bombing-related charge in Israel and served time in prison. They’ve had fingerprint evidence conclusively linking him to the terrorist act, committed under the name Mahmad hadr Mahmad Shakir, since early 2016, according to federal court records…
Despite his conviction, which should have barred him from even entering the United States, much less becoming an American citizen, Shqaire’s application was approved and he took the oath of allegiance on November 6, 2008…
He was charged in September with illegally obtaining his American citizenship by intentionally withholding his criminal record and past associations…
And the best part is that…
Shqaire is currently free on bond and living in the Los Angeles area as he awaits his sentencing, scheduled for Friday.
The system really works. Just ask his lawyer.
Shqaire declined to be interviewed for this article. His attorney, Mark Werksman, said in a recent interview his client has worked as a parking valet in Southern California for years and is not a threat to anyone.
His lies to US immigration officials, Werksman said in a sentencing memorandum, were a misguided attempt to escape the chaos of the Middle East for “the comparative peace and freedom of life in America.”
“Mr. Shqaire wanted nothing more than to be an American and to contribute positively to American society,” the lawyer wrote.
Despite his client’s conviction, the case is an embarrassment for the government, said Werksman, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.
“On paper, my client is a very bad guy,” he told CNN. “So, the question is: How did this happen?”
He’s a parking valet who can afford to hire a former federal prosecutor?
Werksman is a partner in a firm, one of whose partners is repping Kevin Spacey. Los Angeles Magazine described him as one of the city’s top white-collar criminal defense attorneys. His site’s profile claims that, “Mark has successfully represented numerous high-profile individuals from all walks of life, including the entertainment industry and professional sports, as well as leaders in the business community and major multi-national corporations.”
And, apparently, a “parking valet”.
So yes, the system is broken. Very badly. The only sensible thing to do is admit that we can’t filter terrorists out and shut down all travel from terror nations.