How many more lives need to be lost to Islamic terror before it becomes fashionable to shut off mass migration and visas from the Middle East?
A parallel question is often asked by the Left about gun control after a mass shooting incident, but there is one important distinction: American citizens’ self-defense is an inalienable right; all immigration, including mass migration, student visas, and foreign military training visas, is not.
On Friday, just hours before the commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, a naval base in Pensacola was attacked by a Saudi Arabian national. At least 10 other Saudis are also training there. Unlike at Pearl Harbor, however, this attack was committed by an enemy within that we electively brought into the country, and then onto our military bases. Why?
Imagine if the American people were given a voice as to whether we will electively bring in an estimated 850 Saudi pilots to train on our military bases. What if we had been given a choice after 9/11 of whether to double our intake of immigration from the Middle East? What if we had been told that after 15 Saudi nationals flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we’d bring roughly 40,000 students from Saudi Arabia into our universities every year? Would the public have supported such a suicidal plan? Fat chance.
What happened to severe vetting?
Ironically, in a statement that will live on in infamy, President Trump said the following about immigration from the Middle East on December 7, 2015, on the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor:
Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.
This appears to have been the case with Saudi Royal Air Force pilot Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. Even though he was supposed to be among the most vetted of our visa recipients – foreign military trainees – a Twitter account believed to be Alshamrani’s had a short manifesto posted before the attack spewing hatred against America and Israel. This from a man who has been given every opportunity to succeed – by America.
Trump was right in discerning that there is no way to vet such dogma in mass numbers when it is rooted in jihad. 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.
Yet here we are, three years into the administration, and it has only suspended visas from five Middle Eastern countries, conspicuously leaving Saudi Arabia off the list. Moreover, the responses both from the president and his defense secretary have been quite tepid so far in pointing the finger at immigration jihad.
Take a look at the following chart of the number of green cards given out to nationals of predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa since 9/11. There are over 2.3 million. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of foreign students or, of course, the thousands of military exchange students like Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The numbers have not dropped dramatically under Trump. Alshamrani came here under the Trump administration in August 2017.
Perhaps these ominous statistics are reflected most dramatically in the recent news that the name Muhammad has just made it into the list of top 10 boy names … in the United States.
If we can’t even vet the most closely scrutinized military trainees coming onto our secured naval bases, do you really have confidence that there aren’t thousands of other green card recipients and general foreign students from these countries who harbor the same views Alshamrani allegedly expressed on social media?
Is it even possible to vet effectively, and why should we be on the hook for this anyway?
According to the AP, Alshamrani held a dinner party with several other Saudi military students several days before the attack. “One of the three students who attended the dinner party hosted by the attacker recorded video outside the classroom building while the shooting was taking place. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.”
Again, if that many of the most scrutinized military exchange students on naval bases are now under suspicion, what about all those who come in as run-of-the-mill chain migrants as relatives of existing immigrants or as students in civilian universities?
Just in October, a spouse of a Saudi student was sentenced to 12 years in prison after documents uncovered by our forces in Afghanistan showed that he had trained the notorious al Farooq al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Yet a decade after 9/11, he was let into the country on an F-2 student spousal visa and applied for flight lessons in Oklahoma based on the issuance of that visa. Yes, we evidently have still not even prevented Saudis from coming here for flight school! And it was only a fluke operation that wound up catching him.
Over the summer, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, an Iraqi immigrant who was a mechanic for American Airlines, was arrested for putting foam glue inside part of a commercial plane’s navigation system. The FBI found violent jihadist videos on his phone. This is a man who held a high-paying job and enjoyed a good life in America for many years. But when jihad comes calling …
This lack of vetting of those coming from volatile Islamic countries has been a systemic problem with A-2 foreign military training visas. Earlier this year, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that 40 percent of Afghanis who were brought to Fort Worth to train in flying light combat aircraft went AWOL, so the program had to be discontinued. Yet even after most of the 228 Afghanis were located, scores of them were able to apply for status to remain in the country.
This terrorist attack is a terrible reminder of the perverse national security and homeland security priorities of our government. So much is our desire to referee Islamic civil wars halfway around the world that we will bring scores of individuals from all sides of those conflicts to our own shores – both civilian and military – under the guise of bettering our foreign policy and training foreign militaries in proxy wars. But we forget that foreign policy is ultimately about homeland policy, which is most directly threatened by bad immigration policies. There is no overseas agenda that could possibly be worth endangering our own homeland through counterintuitive immigration and visa policies.
At a bare minimum, the president should call on Congress to suspend the A-2 military training visa program until an audit is conducted. There is a budget deadline next week, and now is the best time to have a budget fight over substance. Democrats like to accuse Trump of being weak on Saudi affairs, so now is his time to not only prove them wrong but call their bluff on immigration.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.