U.S. Reportedly Found Little Terror Threat From Seven Targeted Countries
RFE/RL February 25, 2017
The Associated Press reported on February 24 that U.S. security analysts have found no clear terror threat from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted in President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban.
According to a draft document obtained by AP, analysts at the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence unit concluded that citizenship in the targeted countries is an "unlikely indicator" of a person's potential to conduct a terror attack and that few people from those countries have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the United States.
The countries listed in the temporary travel ban were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Trump cited terrorism concerns as his reason for signing the sweeping temporary travel ban on January 27, which also halted the U.S. refugee program. A U.S. district court judge in Washington state blocked the government from carrying out the order earlier this month.
Doubts about whether Trump's order appropriately targeted countries which are the source of terrorist threats to the United States was a major issue raised by the U.S. appeals court in San Francisco which upheld the lower court's block on the order.
AP said a spokeswoman for Homeland Security did not dispute the authenticity of the draft document but said it was not a final, comprehensive review of information from all the government's intelligence sources.
"The document you're referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing," spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told AP. "The...report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete."
AP said the three-page analysis, which Trump reportedly requested after the order was blocked by the courts, was based on publicly available information such as press releases about Justice Department terrorism cases, the State Department's visa statistics and country reports on terrorism, and the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment from the U.S. intelligence community.
AP said the analysis challenged Trump's core claim that the United States was endangered by visitors from the seven targeted countries. Of 82 people the U.S. government has determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out attacks in the United States, it said that 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. One person each was from Iran, Sudan, and Yemen, but none from Syria -- the nation restricted most severely in the Trump order, which included an indefinite ban on taking in Syrian refugees.
The analysis 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 United States.
The White House has said it is in the process of writing a replacement order that will be issued next week, but AP said the revised order is expected to target the same seven countries as the original order.
Trump told a gathering of conservatives in Washington on February 24 that "we will not be deterred from this course."
He vowed that would "never apologize" for protecting the safety of the American people and promised that "we are going to keep radical Islamic terrorism the hell out of the country."
Based on reporting by AP
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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