Barletta: Terror Arrests Proof of Refugee Security Flaws
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today pointed to the arrests of two former Iraqi refugees on terrorism-related charges as proof that the security systems in the refugee screening process are severely lacking and represent national security risks. In separate news releases, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the apprehension of Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan in Texas and Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab in California. Both men are Palestinians born in Iraq who arrived in America as Iraqi refugees – Al Hardan in November 2009 and Al-Jayab in October 2012 – and are accused of lying to U.S. officials about their terrorist connections and activities.
“Top-ranking national security officials have told us that they have no real way of vetting many of the refugees who are seeking entry into the United States, and these two arrests are proof of that,” Barletta said. “The 9/11 Commission Report told us that terrorists want two things most of all: to be able to enter this country, and to be able to stay here long enough to carry out their violent missions. Why on Earth would we want to make it easier for them?”
Barletta renewed his call for suspending the entire refugee program until adequate screenings of applicants can be reliably accomplished. As a first step, Barletta supported the American SAFE Act (H.R. 4038), which passed the House by a large bipartisan vote of 289-to-137, to require certified comprehensive background checks for refugees from Syria or Iraq before they are allowed entry into the United States. He also voted against the recent $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending package because it continued the funding of the Syrian refugee program.
“This is too great a national security threat to continue to rely on superficial screenings, like asking simplistic questions such as, ‘Have you ever aided terrorists or terrorist groups?’ What terrorist will answer that question truthfully?” Barletta said. “It defies common sense. Most, if not almost all, of the potential refugees may be good people, but until we can differentiate the good from the bad, we have to push the pause button. I ask again, if I gave you fifty grapes and told you two of them may be poisoned, how many grapes would you eat?”
According to the Justice Department, Al Hardan, 24, is charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully, and making false statements. Al Hardan is accused of attempting to assist terrorists with training, support, and personal service in combat and then knowingly lying about it when applying for naturalized citizenship. He also denied having associations with terrorists and known sympathizers or receiving weapons training, when he had done exactly that throughout 2014.
Al-Jayab, 23, travelled from Chicago to Syria, by way of Turkey, to join terrorist combatants, according to the Justice Department. Upon returning to the United States, he did not disclose to authorities that he had actively engaged in assisting terrorists while in Syria.
“We know that the Islamic State has America at the top of its hit list, and we have seen their sympathizers act out brutally in San Bernardino,” Barletta said. “Until we can do a better job than simply saying, ‘Welcome to the United States, are you a known terrorist?’ then we should halt the refugee program entirely until the security problems are addressed.”