USA TODAY US Edition
Refugees bring security risks
We have seen the tragic footage of Syrian refugees fleeing the Assad regime and ISIL.
While the United States and international community must respond, I have very serious concerns about how refugees coming here will be vetted, since we know that ISIL will attempt to infiltrate its members into the United States with these refugees. It is vital that we measure our humanitarian beliefs against the security risks of bringing in thousands of unknown individuals. Since the beginning of the year, the FBI has arrested more than 50 individuals connected with ISIL and plotting attacks in the homeland; we cannot afford to compound this threat.
With the lack of stable foreign governments and on-theground intelligence in Syria, our ability to vet refugees is significantly degraded. The White House announcement that 10,000 additional Syrian refugees will be admitted next year is contrary to the advice of law enforcement and intelligence professionals.
The United States has already experienced the danger of flawed refugee vetting, as well as the potential for refugees to be radicalized once they are here. In 2011, two Iraqi refugees were arrested in Kentucky for conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad in support of al- Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIL. Other cases include “blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman; 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef; Mir Aimal Kasi, the 1993 CIA headquarters shooter; the Tsarnaev brothers; and the 20-plus cases of Somali Americans who left the U.S. to join al- Shabaab; and the dozen or so who have joined ISIL.
None of us wants any more of these threats or attacks.
To start, we need to do more to work with Jordan, where we have a good intelligence-sharing relationship. Additionally, we need to review U.S. laws regarding what data are collected from refugees and how U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies can use and retain that data. Above all, the United States needs to have a clear policy on the need to remove the Assad regime and defeat ISIL.
America has a long and proud history of providing safe harbor for refugees. We must continue to do so, but in a way that keeps America safe.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairs the counterterrorism and intellegence subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee.