After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Congress summoned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to explain the visa application process. The San Bernardino shooting rampage killed 14 people and an earlier attack in Paris killed 130 people making worldwide demands for governments to examine the flow of refugees and possible terrorist sympathizers around the globe.
In response to San Bernardino, Republican Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, ordered DHS officials to Capitol Hill to explain America’s complex visa application program. While the hearing was not widely publicized due to the holiday season, the testimony from DHS was startling. Chaffetz asked Michele Bond, DHS assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs: “Since 2001 the department has revoked approximately 122,000 visas for a variety of reasons including nearly 9,500 for suspected links to terrorism. Of the 122,000 revoked visas, how many of those people are still in the United States?”
Ms. Bond stunned the panel when she said: “I don’t know.” Chaffetz rhetorically asked again, “so you have no idea how many of those people are in the US?”
Turning his question to Alan Bersin, the former Director of Customs and Border Protection, Bersin said, “Mr. Chairman I don’t have that information.” A clearly frustrated Chairman mocked the officials, “You don’t have a clue do you? These are people that the State Department, the State Department people who gave out the visas, thought about it, got more information and decided we better revoke those 9,500 that were tied to terrorism, and you don’t have a clue who they were do you?”
Another alarming revelation this month is the number of terror-related investigations that DHS has opened – 118 active investigations into Syrians who have overstayed their visas, with 11 arrests.
“Visa overstays are a long-standing challenge for immigration enforcement,“ said Marc Rosenblum, of the Migration Policy Institute. “Overstay enforcement has never been a top priority, and completing a system to reliably identify and track over stayers remains years away.”
The US Justice Department. has charged 60 people this year on terrorism crimes. Justice officials attribute the increase to the growing threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its ability to recruit through social media.
Recently, US prosecutors charged three people with terror-relates crimes, including Enrique Marquez Jr., a neighbor of Sayed Farook. Investigation suggests he was the purchaser of the rifles used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, Mohamed Elshinawy allegedly received $8,700 directly from ISIS and was planning a terrorist attack inside the US. According to the Washington Post, he told “prosecutors that a childhood friend had connected him through social media with an Islamic State operative.” Also charged is, Jalil Aziz of Pennsylvania who was arrested for providing material support to ISIS by using social media to spread terrorism propaganda and urging supporters/followers to travel to the Middle East for ISIS training.
“The common connection we’re seeing, in almost every case, (is) a tie to social media,” John P. Carlin, assistant Attorney General for National Security said. “They’re trying to motivate people already in the United States to become killers on their behalf. And they would very much like to be . . . the leader in global jihad, to send people here to conduct attacks. It’s that second piece we have not seen yet. Success will be figuring out a way to counter the strategy of the tactics [of ISIS], so they are no longer reaching young people in the United States,” Carlin concluded.
Seemingly, government officials are cautious to brand crimes as terrorism. Yusuf Ibrahim, an Egyptian-born Muslim residing in Jersey City, in 2013, where “he shot, then cut off the heads and hands and knocked the teeth out of two Coptic Christians, Hanny F. Tawadros and Amgad A. Konds, then buried them in Buena Vista Township, New Jersey,” according to Middle East Forum’s Daniel Pipes. He was charged felonies, but not terrorism.
“The twin beheadings are spectacular, gruesome, and replete with jihadi (or in police parlance, terrorist) elements.” Historian Timothy Furnish describes “that ‘ritual beheading has a long precedent in Islamic theology and history,’ making it a distinctly Muslim form of execution. A Muslim killing a non-Muslim fits the ageless pattern of Islamic supremacism. It also fits a tragic pattern of behavior in the United States in recent years,” Pipes reported.
Over the weekend the world heard from the self-professed ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi via an audio recording “’Christian Crusaders and infidel nations’, with the ‘Jews behind them,’ do not dare come to the land to fight a small group of mujahedeen,” Baghdadi said in the audio recording translated by The Long War Journal. “The ‘infidels’ have ‘learned that it is the final war, and after it, Allah permitting, we will strike them, and they will not strike us.’ Once his enemies are defeated, Baghdadi says, ‘Islam will rule the world…until Judgment Day.’”
The world’s most deadly terror front man also criticized the Saudi-led anti-terrorism coalition, that has quickly fallen apart due to differing opinions on how to disband ISIS’s caliphate’s intentions. Baghdadi claims, if the coalition were a true Islamic movement, they would have declared war on the Alawites, including its ruler Bashar al Assad’s and their Russian puppet masters. Baghdadi conveyed to his followers that war between ISIS and the rest of the nonbeliever world is necessary. “In the camp of faith, no hypocrite will be left standing. In the camp of hypocrisy, no believer will be found,” Baghdadi touted. Even though ISIS faces a formidable opponent, the Caliph explained ISIS jihadists should be “confident in Allah’s victory. The more ‘hardships’ the Islamic State suffers … the more its ranks become ever more whole, stronger, and more resolute.”
Happy New Year, World!