On December 7, 1941, on a day that will live in infamy, the Japanese military attacked our naval base in Hawaii, killing 2,335 people. We responded with clarity of mission by declaring war on Japan and defeating it militarily, with a no-holds-barred approach and not a scintilla of political correctness.
On September 11, 2001, a ragtag terrorist organization attacked us through our immigration system, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. We simply let in people we should not have admitted and allowed them to work with networks within this country of other people who should not have been let in. We responded by making the problem worse and increasing migration from those countries without any system to vet incoming immigrants.
Our government’s response to what should have been treated primarily as an immigration and national security problem was to sacrifice thousands of lives and trillions of dollars nation-building on behalf of various tribes fighting each other in the Middle East, empowering Iran, and clamping down on civil liberties at airports – all the while ignoring our visa system and doubling immigration from the Middle East. One could not possibly conjure up a more backward, more counter-intuitive array of policies than the way we have prosecuted the war on terror for the past 18 years.
Responding to an immigration problem by doubling down on unvetted mass migration from the Middle East
The recent arrest of Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani brings out this point. Alani is a mechanic for American Airlines who is accused of putting foam glue inside part of a commercial plane’s navigation system last month. We now basically make Americans strip naked and be humiliated at airports, while we bring in people like this from overseas and even have them work on the very planes our TSA procedures are meant to keep safe! According to Breitbart’s John Binder, “Alani first arrived in the U.S. from Iraq sometime in the mid-1980s. Alani came to the country as the spouse of an American citizen and eventually was able to become a naturalized American citizen himself in 1992.” How was he vetted? What did we know about him before he came to the U.S.? Later citizenship is no guarantee.
Last Thursday, an alleged sniper for ISIS was indicted on conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. How did Ruslan Maratovich Asainov get here from his native Kazakhstan? According to John Binder, he arrived in 1999 on the diversity visa lottery. And he too became an American citizen. There is nothing more dangerous than a random visa lottery to bring in people from volatile parts of the world with limited vetting and no ties to this country. Yet we refused to get rid of the lottery after 9/11.
On December 11, 2017, when Republicans controlled all three branches of government, Akayed Ulla, a Bangladeshi national who came here through the diversity visa lottery, attempted to blow himself up at a New York City subway, a nightmare terror scenario. Six weeks earlier, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbeki national who came on a diversity visa in 2010, ran down eight people with a truck in the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11. There was pressure to get rid of the diversity lottery back then, but Republicans declined to advance such a bill even at the committee level.
There are endless enclaves and clustering of large communities of unassimilable migrants from countries with strong ties to terror right in New York City, the target of the 9/11 attacks. Every week, we see more stories of those arrested on terror charges. On August 29, Awais Chudhary was arrested for plotting an ISIS terror attack in Queens. He came from Pakistan some time after 9/11.
The same applies to the Somali community in Minneapolis, where dozens have been charged for terrorism-related activity. In 2015, U.S. attorney Andrew Lugar warned that there is “a terror-recruiting problem in Minnesota” among the Somali youth and that it does not stem from overseas but “may be their best friend right here in town.” Similarly, in November 2016, Michael Davis, a federal judge in Minnesota appointed by Bill Clinton, warned, “This community needs to understand there is a jihadist cell in this community. Its tentacles spread out.”
No amount of TSA “security” for passengers can stop the suicide of a nation bringing in Sharia-adherent Islamists in large numbers on visas to this country without any way to vet them or deal with the Muslim Brotherhood subversion in their communities on our soil.
We have grown our immigration from Iraq exponentially since 9/11. We’ve brought in roughly 188,000 since 2009, largely because of a war that was sold to us as “fighting them there so they won’t come here.” What has our government done to better vet these people? Iraqi refugees are caught all the time by the FBI on terrorism charges.
We have clearly not learned our lesson, or we are just willing to allow the false gods of mass migration to overshadow safety concerns. We have issued roughly 2.2 million green cards to nationals of predominantly Muslim countries from 2001 through the first quarter of 2018, a level we’ve never seen in our nation’s history. We’ve brought in more just in a five-year period than the entire Muslim population of Belgium, which has become saturated with radical Islamic elements.
Then there are the non-immigrant visas. Consider how astounding this is: Congress passed an exit-entry visa tracking system in 1996. Its implementation was recommended by the 9/11 Commission. We still have not implemented such a verification system. Two of the hijackers, Satam al Suqami and Nawaf al Hazmi, overstayed their visas. Visa overstay remains the biggest gaping hole in our security. Roughly 667,000 people overstayed their visas in 2016 alone, and many still remain in the country.
Furthermore, instead of making visa applications from terror-prone countries a red flag, we now admit over 155,000 foreign students from the Middle East. One of the 9/11 hijackers who piloted the plane that flew into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, came here on a student visa from Saudi Arabia. We have responded to the threat by increasing the number of foreign students from Saudi Arabia from a few thousand a year to over 70,000. In 2014, ABC news discovered that 58,000 foreign nationals had overstayed their student visas in particular, of which 6,000 represented a “heightened concern.”
Remember, the internet was still quite primitive around the time of 9/11. Now it is the prime recruiting tool of terrorism, making it even harder for mass numbers of Middle Eastern immigrants to assimilate than before. In 2018, the DHS and DOJ put out a joint report that found that at least 402, or 73 percent, of the 549 individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges from September 11, 2001, through 2016 were verified as foreign-born, almost all of them from the Middle East or North Africa. The origin of many of the remaining ones were unknown. The first line of defense on terrorism is immigration policy, not war in Afghanistan.
The nexus of immigration, drugs, organized crime, and terror finance missed by the government
What’s worse than bringing in millions of migrants from the Middle East without proper vetting and then sending our troops overseas to fight aimless nation-building missions? Bringing in those people to engage in criminal activity in our own country to fund the terror operations overseas!
Last year, Derek Maltz, who headed the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division in the years after 9/11, told me on my podcast that “increasingly, terrorists from Middle Eastern families are using organized crime through drugs and contraband on our own soil and the government agencies are not doing enough to combat it.” He spoke about the frequency of notorious terror families being allowed into this country, “particularly Yemeni-owned bodegas, gas stations and convenience stores operating all over the U.S. engaging in drugs, cigarette trafficking, and EBT fraud while sending money back to Yemen.” There are similar concerns of day-care fraud funding terror within the Somali community in Minneapolis.
In an interview with CR yesterday, Derek pointed to the absurdity of the son and family of the mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa living in this country and engaging in criminal activity. Abdullah el Hage was arrested in 2016 on drug charges. He is the son of Wadih el Hage, a close associate of Bin Laden who helped mastermind the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. Abdullah’s mother was featured on the cover of Newsweek a few months after 9/11 in a story titled “Married to Al Qaeda.” They were allowed to raise an entire family in Texas.
Derek offered a brief presentation of this case a few weeks ago on Twitter:
Another example of how crime in America is helping to fund terror. With the agencies still fighting for control and power to be in the “lead”, the Transnational criminals are beating us bad. It would be nice for leadership to start leading and do what’s right! @SaraCarterDC pic.twitter.com/YWiv8f1zXd
— Derek Maltz Sr (@derekmaltz_sr) August 17, 2019
“With the 18th anniversary of 9/11 coming up, it’s quite alarming how the government agencies are heading in a horrible direction in regards to terror and crime investigations,” he said.
“Why isn’t the DOJ directing the resources to work cohesively on the complex transnational crime and terrorism issues? Why haven’t they adjusted the strategies knowing that ‘terrorists are increasingly turn to criminal networks for their funding’?”
Derek has warned about the endless problems from the Yemeni-owned bodegas selling drugs that are often laced with rat poison, with the proceeds funding terror overseas. “People have immigrated into this great country in masses since 9/11. Unfortunately, many have nefarious motives and are making huge money from criminal activity, which is being sent back to Yemen and other countries to support radical terrorists.”
Let’s focus on our domestic security and save our military for true military threats
Moral of the story? We don’t need to spend hundreds of billions in the Middle East and risk lives refereeing Islamic civil wars. We merely need to stop admitting Sharia-adherent immigrants, at least in large numbers, and focus like a laser beam on the money trail and Muslim Brotherhood networks already in this country. It all gets back to money.
It’s hard to fight terrorism with a conventional military, especially when we let the problems into our own country. This is why a relentless war on terror financing should be the top priority of counterterrorism. Hezbollah, al Qaeda, al-Shabaab, or any other network cannot function without funding.
The lesson of 9/11 should have been all about immigration and homeland security while saving our military for appropriate missions, forming the right alliances, and maximizing soft power and the tools of statecraft to cut off the money trail funding terror from Iran, Turkey, and Qatar.
Then, of course, there is our border. Despite the numbers finally dropping at the southern border, there are still many “gotaways,” gang members, criminals, and yes, potential terrorists who come over undetected. We have refused to treat our border and the cartels as a military issue and use military tactics to secure the border. It remains every bit as vulnerable to bad people entering as it did 18 years ago. Imagine if a fraction of the resources we used in the sands of Afghanistan had been used at our border.
The results of our backward policies are particularly painful for someone like Derek Maltz. Knowing what he knows about the number of criminal aliens from the Middle East killing us with drugs on our own soil while funding terror overseas, he lost a brother fighting in Afghanistan … so we can bring in more people from there?
The war on terror starts and ends with our own homeland and a prudent and clear foreign policy. Preventing the admission of new individuals who might subscribe to a jihadist ideology and busting up the existing terrorist networks in our country are the front lines in this war. Thank God, until now, a mass attack has been prevented. Given that we have stepped up immigration since 9/11, could there ever be an attack deadly enough to make it fashionable among the political elites to stop importing danger? We don’t ever want to find out.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.