Posted by: ZOA Staff
November 19, 2015
News Press Release

ZOA: US Officials Express Security Concerns on Syrian Refugee Issue

Poll: Americans, 53%-28% Oppose Accepting Any Syrian Refugees
Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015.

Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) released the following information:

The Chairman of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King (NY) recently stated “there is absolutely no way — no real way of vetting, to any extent, these refugees coming in. . . . there is no intelligence on the ground.  We don’t have people on the ground who can vouch for everyone. There’s obviously no government records we can go to. Syria is a totally chaotic country, and it’s a hotbed of al Qaeda and ISIS. And we have no idea who’s coming out of Syria. . . . it definitely puts the United States at risk.”  Congressman King noted that his view is based on classified briefings he received as a member of Congress about the vetting process.

Congressman King also wrote “we know that ISIL will attempt to infiltrate its members into the United States with these refugees. . . . 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.”

The high-threat environment demands that we move forward with greater caution in order to protect the American people and to prevent terrorists from reaching our shores.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Congressman Michael McCaul noted the “threat posed by inadequate security screening,” and that “ISIS themselves have stated their intention to take advantage of the crisis to infiltrate the west.  We have to take this threat seriously and “suspend” the admission  of all Syrian refugees. The high-threat environment demands that we move forward with greater caution in order to protect the American people and to prevent terrorists from reaching our shores.”

And Lebanon’s education minister Elias Bousaab warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that two in every 100 Syrian migrants smuggled into Europe are ISIS-trained jihadists, sent under cover to attack targets in the West.   That amounts to 200 jihadists per ten thousand migrants; a significant number in light of the tremendous damage that just 8 ISIS attackers perpetrated in Paris.  A handful of ISIS terrorists can cause hundreds of deaths and injuries.

President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also stated “We obviously don’t put it past the likes of ISIS to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, that’s a huge concern of ours.”

President Obama’s FBI Director James Comey said about vetting Syrian refugees, “If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing showing up because we have no record of them…we can only query against that which we have collected…Syrian refugees will be harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, US soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. And with respect with Iraqi databases, we had far more data because of our country’s work there for a decade. This is a different situation…yet a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraqi war refugees, including two arrested on terrorism charges.

Nicholas Rasmussen, Director of the National Terrorism Center, said at a Congressional hearing on Word-wide Threats and Homeland Security Challenges, “We have certainly seen terrorist groups talk about, think about, exactly what you are describing Congressman Smith(R-Tx).” Smith had just said that terrorists would be likely to use available federal programs to gain access to this country in order to commit terrorist acts. Smith then added that there’s another “red flag”the profile of these Syrian refugees don’t meet the profile of a typical refugee family, they are “young, single, males, as opposed to family members”… At a time when we are on high alert, all plans for relocating Syrian refugees should come to screeching halt…the president’s insistence that we move forward with his refugee plan is irresponsible, tone-deaf to the reality of security and out of touch with the American people.”

The concerns regarding ISIS infiltration among Syrian refugees are bi-partisan. High ranking Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “a pause may be necessary” on the entry of Syrians to the U.S. The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said that the U.S. needs to examine the role the visa process plays in security risks. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) sent a bi-partisan letter to President Obama on Monday Oct. 16, stating:

“The U.S. government must redouble its efforts to keep the American people safe.  We believe that an essential component of that effort is ensuring that no refugee related to the Syrian crisis is admitted to the United States unless the U.S. government can guarantee, with 100 percent assurance, that they are not members, supporters, or sympathizers of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh or ISIL.”

Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson from Mississippi said, “a lot of us are concerned about whether you have enough information available to you to do an accurate vetting.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan called for a pause in Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S., aptly explaining that “it is better to be safe than to be sorry, so we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.”  Ryan also noted: “This is not about politics. This is about national security.”

Similarly, U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that a “pause or moratorium” was needed in the president’s plan to admit refugees from Syria and Iraq, and that a strategy is needed that would give Syrian refugees the opportunity to stay in their own country.

And thirty-one governors have announced that they are opposed to allowing Syrian refugees settle in their statesFifteen Congresspersons are drafting legislation to prevent funding for the resettlement of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa until authorities adopt “processes to ensure that refugee and related programs are not able to be co-opted by would-be terrorists.”

One of the Paris assailants posed as a Syrian refugee to enter Europe, via Greece and the Balkans, using a fake Syrian passport.  Six of the eight Paris attackers spent time in Syria.

A recent Reuters poll found that 63 percent of Americans are fearful that a Paris-style attack could happen near them, and a recent Bloomberg poll showed that by 53% to 28%, Americans oppose accepting any refugees from Syria.

ISIS terrorists appear to be skilled at hiding their terrorist plans and affiliations – even from persons close to them.  Mohammed Abdesalam said that he and the rest of his family didn’t know that his brothers (the infamous terrorist gunmen Ibrahim and Salah Abdesalam) were planning to perpetrate the Paris massacres.   Our supposed vetters may be unable to ferret out more than close family members know.

Others have said that here is no comparison between ISIS-infiltrated Syrian refugees and past waves of refugees to America, such as the Cuban-American families of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio fleeing from Castro, Jewish-Americans fleeing from the Nazis, Irish-Americans fleeing from famine, and Vietnamese-Americans fleeing the Viet Cong.   As Congressman Peter King noted, in previous refugee “situations, the refugees coming were not a threat to the United States.”  Infiltration by terrorists was not an issue in previous refugee crises.

In recent years, more than 70 US residents have been arrested and charged on terrorism related charges including trying to help ISIS terror networks. At least 15 of them received US citizenship after being admitted to the country legally, including one of the Boston bombers. (Daily Caller, 11-18-15, Rachel Stolzfoos)

There are far less risky ways to compassionately help legitimate Syrian refugees.  Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton explained that the U.N.’s 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, amended in 1967, does not require the U.S. to offer Syrian refugees asylum in the U.S. Rather, “the refugee convention imposes on the country of first asylum an obligation to provide food, shelter, sanitation, and medicine in refugee camps” with the main goal of repatriating them back to their country of origin as soon as possible.  As Ambassador Bolton stated, the U.S. should assist (and has done so, to the tune so far of $4 billion) with providing shelter in foreign countries, with the goal of repatriation.

Moreover, the oil-rich gulf states, which, as The Washington Post stated, “are doing next to nothing for Syria’s refugees,” should do much more to assist the refugees.