Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the Ohio State student who attacked fellow students with his car and a butcher knife last month, was a known recruitment target of Islamic terrorists when Homeland Security officials allowed him into the country as a “refugee.”
The revelation came from a letter sent Wednesday by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Artan entered the U.S. as a refugee along with his mother and six of his siblings, leaving one brother behind in Somalia.
Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is demanding more information on the screening process applied to Artan and his family.
While applying for entrance into the U.S. as a “refugee” from Somalia in 2013, Artan’s mother told immigration officials she feared persecution from al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group, and believed Abdul and his siblings would be recruited into the organization if they remained in Somalia, the Daily Caller reported.
That knowledge should have led USCIS officials to “conduct additional questioning to better understand ties to a group that the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008,” the letter states. But the additional questioning never happened.
Artan’s mother also told government screeners that her husband had been kidnapped by al-Shabab.
All of these facts should have been red flags, a former DHS screening officer told WND.
But the family was accepted by U.S. officials for permanent resettlement in Columbus, Ohio, after spending time in a United Nations refugee camp in Pakistan. Columbus has the second-largest community of Somali refugees after Minneapolis.
Philip Haney, a recently retired Homeland Security officer and co-author of the bombshell book “See Something Say Nothing,” said it’s not all that rare that a case with obvious red flags gets no response when passed up the line from the original interviewer at DHS.
“Them saying the father was kidnapped by al-Shabab is a red flag for me. Do we really know if that was true or just a sob story to get them in?” Haney told WND. “For all we know their father is al-Shabab or their father has two or more families – one here and one back home in Somalia.”
Haney said he encountered this, among many other lies, told by Somali refugees during his interviews with them.
“They would travel back and forth, during the cold part of the year in Minneapolis they would leave their truck-driving job or their taxi-driving job behind and go back to Somalia, then come back in the spring,” he said. “We saw that very often. It’s not uncommon. So the fact his father was ‘kidnapped’ was a red flag for me immediately, and now it’s followed up with the story that they never really vetted any of this information. This is exactly what’s been going on for the last 10 years or more.”
President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other federal officials have repeated assured the American people that refugees are the “most rigorously scrutinized” of all people coming to the United States.
Haney said DHS was still in its infancy in 2005, 2006 and 2007 but was learning how to be more effective in screening out bad apples trying to enter the U.S. as refugees.
He said he noticed a definite change in 2008 when the Obama administration took over.
“They basically brushed it all aside, they rarely followed up with secondary cases,” Haney told WND.
Sessions to the rescue?
The fact that Artan’s family came from Pakistan is in itself troubling, said Ann Corcoran, author of the Refugee Resettlement blog.
She said Sen. Jeff Sessions, when he takes over as Donald Trump’s attorney general, should launch an investigation into the Somali refugee program.
“Sessions, when he takes over as attorney general in January, needs to take this case apart from top to bottom and figure out how this happened,” Corcoran told WND. “Take it from the first minute and follow this family through the whole process, each separate stage, and try to figure out how these Somalis are coming in from all over the world.”
U.S. inundated with Somali refugees
In the first three months of fiscal year 2017, which began on Oct. 1, more refugees have come to the U.S. from Somalia than from any other Muslim country – 3,014 in total. That outranks even the Syrian refugee program, which has sent 2,836 Syrians to the U.S. since Oct. 1. The U.S. government distributes Somali refugees, who are almost all Muslim, to some 300 cities and towns, with high concentrations in not only Minnesota and Ohio but Atlanta, San Diego, Seattle, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, North Dakota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas.
But Somalis aren’t coming just from the big U.N. refugee camp on the Kenya-Somalia border.
“We are picking them up from Pakistan, Malta, Malaysia, Australia, and Sessions needs to get to the bottom of it,” Corcoran said. “In Malta, for example, what you have are illegal aliens who came across in boats from Somalia and then we take them in as refugees. There’s absolutely no way to screen those people. Several hundred Somalis in the last year we have taken just from Malta.”
Bad apples in a bad system
DHS set up the intelligence driven special operations or IDSO for the purpose of screening young men from high-risk Middle Eastern countries, Haney said.
“We interviewed a lot of people, it was a regular thing almost every day. There were a lot of cases where I myself attempted to follow up and pass on information to the Joint Terrorism Task Force and/or the FBI that I had gleaned from my interviews on people just like the student from Ohio State, but never really received a prompt response, an engaged response, an adequate response, the kind of response you would expect to get from your colleagues. Instead we saw a lack of urgency.”
Haney said that lack of urgency left he and others at DHS “in kind of a twilight-zone situation in which we knew we were seeing trends develop and we weren’t able to follow through with them because our colleagues in other agencies like the FBI were not very responsive.”
Haney said Artan’s case appears typical of many of the Somalis he interviewed.
“We set up an entire template for interviewing young men originally from Somalia, where we’d studied all the specific regions of Somalia, where they came from, we’d find out their family ties, and we’d also be able to predict what their birthday would be because virtually everyone coming from Somalia says they were born on Jan. 1,” he said. “Your identification with your family and your extended family is central to people in the Middle Eastern world because family is central to your whole world, everything you do in life depends on the family you come from. So there are a lot of clues you can glean just from that.”
Obama ushers in CVE to protect rights of Muslims
Haney said that in the years 2005-06-07 DHS officers “were essentially able to do our jobs but as soon as the administration changed hands it became virtually impossible to follow up and do basic law enforcement.”
There was a direct correlation in the timing of the transition to Obama, he said.
“You have to remember we’re trained observers, observing not only the actions of the bad guys but also the policies within our own agencies – we’re perfectly aware of that too,” he said. “We’re subject matter experts in an area that requires attention to detail and all of a sudden we’re discovering a trend developing where the administration is not responsive and at the same time it was developing a program based on the civil rights and civil liberties of Muslims. What you ended up with was a politically based policy that became known as ‘countering violent extremism.'”
Haney said words like “inclusive” and “diversity” started popping up and taking precedence over more time-honored law enforcement techniques.
“Can you define what inclusion means? Can you define what diversity means? I can’t,” Haney said. “But those were the types of vague terms being thrown around in this new emphasis on CVE.”
These are also the exact terms used by the United Nations in its 2030 Agenda and in its New Urban Agenda, which focuses on the rights of migrants and places those rights above the national security of nations.
He said the CVE program places more importance on guarding the rights of Muslims and shielding Islam from criticism than it does on protecting American citizens.
“U.N. Resolution 16/18, which was heartily endorsed by Hillary Clinton and Obama, is the embodiment of this effort to criminalize criticism of Islam,” Haney said. “The goals of the UN and the goals of the Obama administration have 100 percent overlap.”