The recently released report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) on the threat of international terrorism -- a requirement of President Donald Trump's Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry into the United States -- falls sadly short.
The Executive Order requires information regarding:
- the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been charged, convicted, or removed from the U.S. based on terrorism-related activity;
- the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been radicalized in the U.S. and engaged in terrorism-related acts; and
- the gender-based violence against women in the U.S. by foreign nationals.
Yet the current report does not provide any numbers for those or a lot else.
(Image from the cover of the report released by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.)
While the report reveals that approximately 46% of those convicted of international terrorism-related offenses from 9/11 through the end of 2016 (254 out of 549 individuals) were not U.S. citizens, it does not identify the number and nature of offenses they committed, their manner of entry, countries of origin, religion, or other related information. Included in the report is an explanation for this lack of detail, saying that the DHS and DOJ did not have "complete, final information about these individuals" by the time of the report's publication.
The nature and wording of the report, however, raise the question of whether political correctness surrounding the regional and religious origins of the foreign nationals described does not play some role in the absence of concrete data.
The report presents illustrative examples of foreign nationals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses. All are Muslims -- based on their being connected to Islamist groups recognized as terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab; based on their obviously Islamic names; and based on the fact they all are from Muslim-majority countries. Yet the report does not mention this. Moreover, a search of the report for the words "Muslim" or "Islam" produces only two matches: one in relation to ISIS's goal of establishing an "Islamic caliphate," and the other in reference to the "Islamic State in Iraq."
Also, according to the report, as of its publication, the "DHS and DOJ lack[ed] unclassified, aggregated statistical information pertaining to foreign nationals' radicalization in the U.S.," and that it is "unclear how many non-fatal domestic and gender-based violence incidents were perpetrated by foreign nationals."
With regard to required additional relevant information, the report mentions that "in fiscal year 2017, DHS had 2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempting to enter the U.S.," and "from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2017, 355,345 non-US citizen offenders were arrested and 372,098 were removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)." Here again, no information is provided about those persons' countries of origin, religion or why they are on the watchlist for terrorists.
The DHS/DOJ report presents little new, useful information on the international terrorist threat to Americans and non-Americans on U.S. soil. The report, for instance, fails to include -- or flatly ignores -- significant findings to raise awareness of the threat to Americans' safety. Among these are, not surprisingly, evaluating how effective or ineffective the US government's policies and procedures are in screening and vetting people hoping to come to the United States. Future reports really should provide such information, particularly that which is not publicly known. If they do not -- either as a result of political correctness or incompetence -- the Executive Order will be rendered meaningless.
A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.