Department of Homeland Security, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Im-Politic, Islam, Jeff Sessions, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, radical Islam, refugees, right-wing terrorism, Senate Judiciary Committee, Ted Cruz, terrorism
Although American politics remains roiled by the issues of admitting refugees into the country from the war-torn Middle East, and whether the U.S. Muslim population presents an unusual terrorism challenge, evidence keeps mounting that this debate should long ago have been put to rest in favor of greater vigilance.
As I’ve written recently, law enforcement records and officials in Europe show that literally dozens of terrorists – including some involved in recent large-scale attacks – have successfully entered the continent disguised as refugees. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest has now released data showing that, as a news report puts it, “hundreds of terror plots have been stopped in the U.S. since 9/11 – mostly involving foreign-born suspects, including dozens of refugees.”
The clear implication, according to subcommittee chair Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who’s a key adviser to his party’s presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump; and subcommittee colleague Ted Cruz of Texas (Trump’s strongest primary season opponent): “[T]he United States not only lacks the ability to properly screen individuals prior to their arrival, but also that our nation has an unprecedented assimilation problem.”
These findings could pose big problems for President Obama and his administration, which has consistently maintained that current American screening is adequate, and who strongly opposes any measures that would focus more tightly and explicitly on Islam-related domestic and international terror threats; and for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who favors greatly increasing Middle East refugee admissions.
The subcommittee says that its examination of Justice Department records and open source documents (e.g., media reports) shows that between September, 2001 (when the 9-11 terrorist strikes on U.S. targets took place) and 2014, the U.S. Government convicted 580 individuals on terrorism and terror-related charges. And since 2014, according to a Fox News summary of the data, at least another “131 individuals were identified as being implicated in terror.”
Among the 580 convicted, the subcommittee contends, at least 380 were foreign-born, and 244 came from Middle Eastern countries or from other countries with large majority Muslim populations (like Indonesia and Bangladesh).
Less country-of-origin information is available for those implicated in terrorism. Sessions and Cruz blame this situation on the failure of the Department of Homeland Security to provide them with crucial immigration history details.
At the same time, the overwhelming majority of them “claimed allegiance” to Islam-related organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda. Of the 580 convicted terrorists, 226 claimed allegiance to Islam-related organizations.
Moreover, if you think that these findings reflect the political biases or prejudices of Sessions and Cruz, take a look at similar statistics compiled by the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank who no one has ever accused of Republican or other right wing leanings. A database maintained by the organization shows that, since 9-11, “violent jihadist attacks” have killed 94 Americans. That’s nearly twice the 48 the Foundation says were killed in “far right wing attacks” during this period. Moreover, the jihadist strikes have wounded 289, while their right-wing counterparts injured 27.
Interestingly, according to New America, the number of right-wing attacks (18) was nearly twice the number of such Islam-related incidents. And whereas only 13 individuals participated in the jihadist attacks, 32 participated in the right-wing killings.
So it’s possible to look at all these numbers and conclude that, according to many of them, far right terrorism is just as big a problem as the Islam-related and immigration/refugee versions, and that no unusual emphasis on the latter is justified.
But ask yourself this: What is the Muslim population of the United States? How many Middle East refugees have been admitted over the years? How do these numbers compare with the non-Muslim native-born American population? The obvious answers should remove any doubt that terrorism in America is disproportionately linked with the country’s Muslim community, and that denying this reality – which by no means precludes vigorous efforts against other forms of terrorism – can only make the nation less safe.