Monday, June 5, 2017

The Trump administration should reassess where threat of terrorism in the U.S. really lies

The Trump administration should reassess where the threat of terrorism in the U.S. really lies
By:  Michael Lander

On Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order, temporarily banning entry, for 90 days, of individuals seeking to come to the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. 

The president, at the time, sought to justify the urgent need for this action claiming that it was desperately needed for the safety and security of our nation and that it would allow enough time to review, improve, and implement a better vetting process than what was already in place.

Unfortunately, for the president, his order, and a revised version of that order, were quickly challenged in the court system, and were blocked, or met with restraining orders, due in part to his campaign rhetoric of implementing a Muslim travel ban.  It is now headed to the Supreme Court where its fate may be hurt by the president’s own words and his tweets.

After the most recent terrorist attack in London, on Saturday, June 4, for example, the president again reiterated the need for a travel ban, and suggested that the Justice Department should not have submitted a politically correct version of his order.

These, and other such comments, are likely to cause further consternation for the president’s White House communication staff and advisors who are trying to steer away from any implication that these latest comments might infer that the president’s order is actually just a ban against Muslims, which, if it were, would further imperil the fate of his executive order.

Whatever may ultimately be decided about the president’s executive order, the rationale for it has come under fire from critics who claim that it doesn’t actually get to the heart of the threat that is posed to the U.S. by radical Islamic extremists.

Also, some might ask that since the ban was only intended to be in effect for 90 days, why additional time would be needed to implement enhanced vetting procedures when almost twice that time has already elapsed.

For those who strongly oppose the travel ban, the problem they believe is in first identifying where the real problem exists.  They contend that the evidence does not seem to suggest that it is coming from those immigrating from a handful of Muslim majority nations.

Opponents to the president’s travel order say that, in the U.S., most terrorist acts are not committed by refugees and immigrants, but they are almost always committed by U.S. citizens who, in many cases, have become self-radicalized.   

Click here for a historical list of terrorist acts in the U.S.

Even though there is substantial evidence that refugees and immigrants to the U.S. do not pose the greatest threat to the U.S., this does not mean, nor does it preclude the possibility of an increase of terrorist acts committed by radical Islamic extremists, homegrown or otherwise.   

Currently, one of the greatest and growing threats of terrorism in the U.S., and around the world, is coming from ISIS, which, according to the former Mecca Grand Mosque IMAM, Adil Al-Kalbani, draws its beliefs from the Saudi version of Islam known as Wahhabism.

Ninety-four (94) percent of global terrorism from 2001-2015 is associated with Wahhabi/Salafi (Sunni).

The National Bureau of Economic Statistics lists the largest ISIS foreign fighter contingents as coming from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, and Jordan.  None of these are on the president’s list of nations impacted by his executive order nor are the nations of the 9/11 hijackers, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia, two who came from U.A.E., and one who came Egypt and Lebanon. 

The U.S. State Department has identified Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Sudan as nations that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.  Even though Russia and China are not on the State Department’s list, both nations are known to have deep connections, and have provided funding, to one or more of these countries. 

China is a strategic ally of North Korea and Russia is a strategic ally to Iran and Syria with strong diplomatic ties to North Korea, as well.

In addition to these countries, other sources have identified nations like Afghanistan and Pakistan as sources of global terrorism, too.

As important as it is to reevaluate, reassess, and refine vetting procedures for immigrants, it alone is not the end-all solution to the threats that come from a greatly distorted version of Islam.  

We must concentrate, instead, on a multi-faceted approach that focuses on ensuring greater assimilation and improved communication with the Muslim communities (and the 3.3 million Muslims) already living in the U.S., and finding methods to disrupt the ways in which individuals become self-radicalized.  

Given the magnitude of the threat that comes from friendly, and not-so-friendly nations to the U.S., and that which comes from our own U.S. citizens who may become self-radicalized, the president’s executive order does not sufficiently address where all of the real dangers for Americans might actually lie.

Until the Trump administration redirects its focus beyond an executive order that may yield little more than the fulfillment of a campaign promise, and it pursues a strategy that gets to the greatest potential source of terrorism by radical Islamic extremists, Americans will not be as safe as they might hope to be.

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