WASHINGTON—A new joint report by the Justice Department and Homeland Security has revealed that 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between 9/11 and the end of 2016.
Most individuals (73 percent) were foreign-born. Of the 549 convicted, 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were foreign-born and subsequently received U.S. citizenship, and 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
A senior administration official said the report underscores the need to end chain migration, the diversity visa lottery, and establish a merit-based immigration system.
“The focus of our immigration system is in promoting assimilation—that should be what our ideal is,” the official said on a press call Jan. 16. “Not bringing in individuals who they themselves, or their children, will eventually take up arms against the United States. That is an unacceptable standard.”
Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, a national of Sudan, was admitted to the United States in 2012 as a family member of a lawful permanent resident from Sudan, according to the report. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the ISIS terrorist group, and was subsequently sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev, a national of Uzbekistan, was admitted to the United States as a diversity visa lottery recipient in 2011, according to the report. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS, and in 2017 was sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to court documents, Juraboev posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS.
“He added that, if he were unable to travel, he would engage in an act of martyrdom on U.S. soil if ordered to do so by ISIS, such as killing the president or planting a bomb on Coney Island,” the report said.
The diversity visa lottery is based on “sheer luck” the official said. “It’s not a good indicator of ability to thrive and succeed in the United States.”
Each year, the lottery gives 50,000 green cards to nationals of countries that had a low immigration rate to the United States in the previous five years.
Chain, or family-based, migration occurs when a person emigrates to the United States and in turn sponsors other relatives to join him or her. Those relatives, in turn, can sponsor people, and so on, indefinitely.
About 72 percent of the 1 million people who obtained green cards in 2015 came based on a family connection, according to Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
When pressed about why the report includes a number of individuals who plotted overseas attacks, the official said the location of a plot is irrelevant.
“We don’t want to be a terrorist safe-haven. So whether someone is plotting an attack in Syria and living in Minnesota, it’s not something that is in the best interests of this nation,” he said.
“The problem is that we are admitting individuals, who, after admission to the United States, are plotting attacks—whether within, or going to fight and join ISIS abroad—that doesn’t serve anyone’s interest other than those terrorists and terrorist organizations. And that’s something that we’re committed to ending.”
The report did not include information about the timing of each individual’s radicalization.
The official said the countries many of the terrorists hail from are not a surprise, referring to Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Iraq, which have all struggled with terrorism.
Trump’s travel ban issued on Sept. 24 includes limits on eight countries—almost all citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen were banned indefinitely from entering the United States as of Oct. 18. Some Venezuelan citizens are restricted, and Iraq citizens are not subject to restrictions, but now face heightened scrutiny.
In fiscal year 2017, the Department of Homeland Security encountered 2,554 individuals who are on the terrorist watch list (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) attempting to enter the United States—2170 by air, 335 by land, and 49 by sea.
Furthermore, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped more than 73,000 foreign travelers on flights destined for the United States, who may have presented an immigration or security risk, between fiscal year 2010 and 2016.
The USCIS referred almost 46,000 visa holders to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the last decade, based on information that they had committed egregious public safety offenses within the United States, including murder, rape, firearms trafficking, and child pornography.
“These are individuals who have been walking the streets of the United States, who have been convicted or committed egregious public safety offenses, and yet have the gall to apply for an immigration benefit,” the administration official said. “That’s a large number of foreign nationals, and quite frankly, in our view, it’s really only the tip of the iceberg.”
Violence Against Women
Every year, in the United States, an estimated 23 to 27 women are murdered in so-called “honor killings,” according to a prior study by the Justice Department. Almost all of them were killed for being “too westernized,” based on open media sources.
In addition, 513,000 women and girls were at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2012, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease and Control. This is three times higher than the 1990 estimate, and the study noted that the increase “was wholly a result of rapid growth in the number of immigrants from FGM/C-practicing countries living in the United States.”
The report was commissioned by President Donald Trump as part of his executive order “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” released in March 2017. The order requested the report within 180 days, which would have been Sept. 2, 2017. However, the official said the report is late because of the amount of information required to assemble it. The next report is due July 15.
The report does not include domestic terror incidents.