The Obama administration has allowed the first load of an ultimate 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US. While it is ridiculous for Americans to have to verbalize the fact that we are concerned about the plight of these and all refugees, I preface the remainder of this commentary with this statement; “Americans are deeply concerned with the plight of these refugees.”
That said, the principal concern of Americans in reference to this is our own security, especially in light of the fact that one of the terrorists who attacked in Paris admitted to slipping into Greece as a Syrian born, ISIS jihadist. Our concerns are unfounded however, according to President Obama, because these individuals have been “vetted.”
It is vital, therefore, that we examine this caveat with an emphasis on the actual process itself. After all, if there is a discrepancy here, such as the possibility that we are being misled by the administration, the end result will not simply be that our President lied to us once again, the end result will be more dead Americans, adding to the Islamic inspired American deaths such as that which occurred in the attack at Fort Hood.
Consider the case of Dzhokhar Anzorovich "Jahar" Tsarnaev, convicted of planting bombs that killed three and wounded 280 at the Boston Marathon. Jahar, a Russian born citizen was granted refugee status after what has been determined to have been an “in-depth” vetting.
While the vetting he received in fact was much more extensive than that which the Syrian refugees are supposedly receiving, and while this is indeed an anecdotal example, the families of the three who died, and the 280 wounded, do not consider it insignificant or without merit in this discussion. As the people of Paris have tragically experienced, a number of committed individuals can destroy an entire nation’s sense of security and safety, killing hundreds while doing so.
Individuals born and raised in Syria are exposed to a much, much greater extent than Americans to extremist Islamic ideology. An assumption embraced by knowledgeable analysts in the area is that 30 percent of those exposed either lean strongly toward embracing the ideology or accepting it outright, with the intent to act upon it at the right time.
According to these same analysts, the current population of refugees is comprised of 50 percent to 80 percent fighting age males, (15 to 45 years of age). A sensible alternative for those advocating bringing these refugees into the country would be to reduce or limit the numbers in this age range. Former Florida Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West has urged the President not to bring in males between the ages of 17 and 45 at all.
Additionally, House Homeland Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has advised the President that testimony before his committee from the FBI as well as Department of Homeland Security officials have vigorously warned against bringing in any military-aged males. These entireties have to date had no effect on the Obama administration’s plans, however.
That 30 percent of those who embrace the extremist ideology applies to those seeking asylum in the United States should be considered a conservative estimate. In light of this officially verifiable data, it is safe to say the only impediment to their taking actions and becoming operational terrorists while in America is the “vetting process,” which, again, our President and his administration have assured us has – and will be — “extensive.” A logical examination of this vetting process and its worth in assuring Americans they are protected is easily done based on available facts.
The Refugee Crisis Act of 2008, and the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, established clear procedures for Afghans facing potential persecution as a result of their assistance to the United States in order to escape retribution and immigrate to the United States. These refugees were to “expeditiously” receive Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), allowing for their safe resettlement in America.
The effort originated as an attempt for America to avoid the catastrophic effects of our turning our backs on those who stood by us in Vietnam.
The concept is a valiant one, and something we must support. There is, however, an almost insurmountable roadblock to individuals, proven worthy, in accessing this program: the vetting procedure. Vetting these applicants has been recognized from the onset of the program to be the only way of assuring that questionable individuals are not admitted to the United States.
It is important to keep in mind that these individuals are for the most part individuals who have fought on the battlefield alongside American soldiers. Their fate, if left in Afghanistan, is too dismal to put in words. Additionally, they for the most part have a lengthy paper trail and Afghan government documentation allowing for seemingly swift vetting.
But in spite of that, hundreds if not thousands are still waiting, some for more than three years after initiallyapplying because the vetting process is still ongoing. These are individuals who have proven their willingness to sacrifice themselves to support our soldiers, and they are still undergoing the vetting process. This is logical, because, in order to accurately vet an individual, especially one who has been potentially exposed to extremist Islamic jihadist ideology, takes time. Nevertheless, even taking the time to do it right, serious mistakes have been made.
The vetting of these SIV applicants was seen as the most important and potentially weak link in the process. American government officials responsible for the success of the program recognized this was actually the most effective way to clear an applicant for immigration to the US. As such, ample controls and time were set aside to assure minimal mistakes in the vetting process. Under these somewhat austere, albeit much simpler conditions, when compared to those surrounding the process of vetting Syrians, the only effective way of appropriately vetting an applicant was through the interview process.
An applicant underwent a minimum of 10 different interviews spaced out over a lengthy period of time. The process involved asking background questions, then waiting an extensive period of time to re-ask the same questions in a slightly different manner to identify discrepancies that could indicate deceit.
In actuality, many individuals intent on using the program to enter America in order to carry out terrorist attacks were identified and apprehended through the program, but the key to it was “time.”Assuming
individual from Syria, raised in that environment and exposed to extremist ideology and hardships few can imagine (many of which can easily be attributed to a skillful Islamic terror recruiter) can be properly vetted in a few weeks is so far beyond ludicrous as to be only one thing, deceitful. Assuming these individuals will all embrace the American way of life and refuse to submit to the call of Islamic extremism is idiocy.
Recognizing this, McCaul has called upon President Obama to suspend the admission of refugees into the United States, pointing out “gaping holes” in the vetting process and requesting an in-depth review of the process. Compounding all of this, FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary that the government dramatically lacks the resources to fully vet Syrian refugees.
“We remain concerned that these resettlements are taking place without appropriate regard for the safety of the American people,” McCaul wrote in a recent letter to the President.
This author has extensive experience with the counterintelligence responsibility in vetting Afghans for the SIV program. It is difficult, time consuming, and even with the very best technology and aforementioned existing government records, is often impossible. As a result, true to the program and to the commitment to keep America and Americans safe, many potentially deserving refugees are not allowed to enter the country through the SIV program.
Apparently anticipating resistance, the Obama administration allowed the entry into the United States at New Orleans of the first wave of an initial 10,000 refugees. Congress and the Governor of Louisiana were caught by surprise.
According to a homeland security official, the Obama administration did not tell Congress that Syrian refugees were arriving in Louisiana until it was reported by a local news outlet. This prompted a strongly worded condemnation from Gov. Bobby Jindal, but it also triggered preemptive refusals from the governors of numerous states to accept any Syrian refugees.
Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan and Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama issued individual statements on November 15 declaring their states would not be open to refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama throughthe US Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Bentley said in a statement.
Additionally, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va. stated, “ISIS terrorists and sympathizers have made clear that they plan to infiltrate Western countries through the refugee system. When will President Obama take ISIS threats seriously, as well as the warnings of national security officials within his own administration, and cease his plan to bring thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States?”
Goodlatte had earlier called on President Obama to rescind his directive to Secretary of State John Kerry to usher in thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States.
The bottom line is this: President Obama, for reasons known only to him, is allowing the implementation of a potentially seriously dangerous program. It is safe to say that 20 percent to 30 percent of the individuals currently being resettled in America, through Louisiana initially, are either open too or committed to some level of Islamist Jihad on Americam soil. It is also safe to say no one in the Obama administration has the slightest clue who these potentially violent extremists are.
The adage, “it only takes one,” may be trite, but it is not only valid, it is extremely troubling. The severe odds are that Americans will die from this action.
Contributing Writer Godfrey Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from US Special Forces in 2006. He served two military tours and six civilian government related tours in Afghanistan. His work there most recently was as a counter-corruption analyst. Garner is author of, Danny Kane and the Hunt for Mullah Omar, and, The Balance of Exodus.