by Michael Cutler
Here we go again. Yet another newly-naturalized United States citizen has been convicted of traveling to Syria to receive terror training, fight on the side of al-Nusrah Front, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, and provide material support to that terrorist organization. He was additionally convicted of lying to an FBI agent.
On January 23, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press release, Ohio Man Sentenced for Providing Material Support to Terrorists, Making False Statements to Authorities.
That “Ohio man” was Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a native of Somalia.
I have written about this case in two previous articles, A Terrorist and Naturalization Fraud and How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations. As I noted in the first of those two commentaries, Mohamud committed fraud when he lied on his application for his U.S. passport by claiming he intended to travel to Greece when, in reality, he traveled to Syria. Furthermore, lying on his application for U.S. citizenship also constitutes fraud. Under Title 18 U.S. Code § 1425 (Procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully) the punishment for this crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years, when this crime is committed in conjunction with terrorism. This is a much greater penalty than he faced for lying to an FBI agent.
Of far greater consequence than the potential longer jail sentence than he faced for lying to an FBI agent, is that conviction for committing fraud in his applications for citizenship would have stripped him of his citizenship and subject him to deportation (removal) from the United States. Yet he was not charged with this crime.
The flawed immigration adjudications process, by which Mohamud was granted U.S. citizenship, provided him with material support by enabling him to legally obtain a U.S. passport that facilitated his travel to Syria. In fact, in reviewing communications with his brother, the issue of his becoming a United States citizen, thereby enabling him to obtain that U.S. passport, emerged as an integral part of his plan to travel to Syria, receive training and return to the United States to carry out a deadly terror attack.
Around the world, the U.S. passport is considered the premier travel document. Consider this statement from Chapter 12 of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:
For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.
Unfortunately, this case is not unusual and is only one of ever so many other cases where aliens successfully gamed the immigration system to gain various immigration benefits that enabled them to remain in the United States to support terrorism or even carry out deadly terrorist attacks.
All applicants for U.S. citizenship are supposed to undergo a Good Moral Character investigation in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Mohamud naturalized just months before heading off to terror training in Syria. Yet the Good Moral Character investigation failed to uncover his involvement with terrorism. President Trump stated that all DACA illegal aliens who would be provided lawful status and a pathway to citizenship wold have to undergo a Good Moral Character investigation. How meaningful would those investigations truly be?
Consider that on January 16, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press release jointly with the DHS:
DOJ, DHS Report: Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign-Born.
That press release noted that:
The report reveals that at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016. An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born. Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:
• 254 were not U.S. citizens;
• 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,
• 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
According to information available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since September 11, 2001, there were approximately 1,716 removals of aliens with national security concerns.
It is more than a bit disconcerting that 148 naturalized citizens were convicted of terrorism-related crimes. How many of them had been naturalized even as they went about their nefarious goals, as did Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud? Remember, all aliens who naturalize are supposed to undergo Good Moral Character investigations, the most extensive investigation that is generally conducted for immigration-related benefits.