Threat ev­i­dence found in­suf­fi­cient

Home­land Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts: Trump’s seven-na­tion ban base­less

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - VI­VIAN SALAMA AND ALI­CIA A. CALD­WELL

WASH­ING­TON — An­a­lysts at the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s in­tel­li­gence arm found in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence that cit­i­zens of seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries in­cluded in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s travel ban pose a ter­ror threat to the United States.

A draft doc­u­ment ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press con­cludes that cit­i­zen­ship is an “un­likely in­di­ca­tor” of ter­ror­ism threats to the United States and that few peo­ple from the coun­tries Trump listed in his travel ban, which he signed in late Jan­uary, have car­ried out at­tacks or been in­volved in ter­ror­ism-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties in the U.S. since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.

Trump cited ter­ror­ism con­cerns as the pri­mary rea­son he signed the sweep­ing tem­po­rary travel ban, which also halted the U.S. refugee pro­gram. A fed­eral judge in Wash­ing­ton state blocked the gov­ern­ment from car­ry­ing out the or­der ear­lier this month. Trump said Fri­day that a new edict would be an­nounced soon. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has been work­ing on a new ver­sion that could with­stand le­gal chal­lenges.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment spokesman Gil­lian Christensen on Fri­day did not dis­pute the re­port’s au­then­tic­ity, but said it was not a fi­nal com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the gov­ern­ment’s in­tel­li­gence.

“The doc­u­ment you’re ref­er­enc­ing was com­men­tary from a sin­gle in­tel­li­gence source ver­sus an of­fi­cial, ro­bust doc­u­ment with thor­ough in­ter­a­gency sourc­ing,” Christensen said. “The … re­port does not in­clude data from other in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity sources. It is in­com­plete.”

The Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment re­port is based

on un­clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion from Jus­tice Depart­ment press re­leases on ter­ror­ism-re­lated con­vic­tions and at­tack­ers killed in the act, State Depart­ment visa statis­tics, the 2016 World­wide Threat As­sess­ment from the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and the State Depart­ment Coun­try Re­ports on Ter­ror­ism 2015.

The three- page re­port chal­lenges Trump’s core claims. It said that of 82 peo­ple the gov­ern­ment de­ter­mined were in­spired by a for­eign ter­ror­ist group to carry out or try to carry out an at­tack in the United States, just over half were U.S. cit­i­zens born in the United States. The oth­ers were from 26 coun­tries, led by Pak­istan, So­ma­lia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbek­istan. Of these, only So­ma­lia and Iraq were among the seven na­tions in­cluded in the ban.

Of the other five na­tions, one per­son each from Iran, Su­dan and Ye­men was also in­volved in those ter­ror­ism cases, but none from Syria. It did not say if any were Libyan.

The re­port also found that ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia and Su­dan are re­gion­ally fo­cused, while groups in Iraq, Syria and Ye­men do pose a threat to the U.S.

The seven coun­tries were in­cluded in a law Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed in 2015 that up­dated visa re­quire­ments for for­eign­ers who had trav­eled to those coun­tries.

Christensen said the coun­tries were also se­lected in part be­cause they lacked the abil­ity to prop­erly vet their cit­i­zens and don’t co­op­er­ate with U.S. ef­forts to screen peo­ple hop­ing to come to the U.S.

The re­port was pre­pared

as part of an in­ter­nal re­view Trump re­quested af­ter his ex­ec­u­tive or­der was blocked by the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals. It was drafted by staff of the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s In­tel­li­gence and Anal­y­sis branch at the di­rec­tion of its act­ing leader, David Glawe.

White House spokesman Michael Short said this was not the full re­port that Trump had re­quested. He said he be­lieves that “the in­tel com­mu­nity is com­bin­ing re­sources to put to­gether a com­pre­hen­sive re­port us­ing all avail­able sources, not just open sources, and which is driven by data, not pol­i­tics.”

Trump orig­i­nally said the ban was nec­es­sary to over­haul the vet­ting sys­tem for refugees and would-be for­eign vis­i­tors, say­ing that ter­ror­ists may try to ex­ploit weak­nesses to gain ac­cess to the United States.

AP/SU­SAN WALSH

The Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton is shown in this June 5, 2015, file photo.

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