ISIS Using Refugee Crisis As A Trojan Horse
Both FBI Director James Comey and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson have admitted that there is no way to properly vet these refugees. There are two main reasons why we lack that capability: (1) we do not have the requisite intelligence in Syria, and (2) our government largely fails to understand or even recognize the ideological threat posed by certain foreign organizations.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation in the Senate and House that aims to tackle the latter problem. The proposed legislation calls on the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. Citing the largest terrorism financing trial in United States history (U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, 2008), the legislation would require the secretary of State to report to Congress on whether the Muslim Brotherhood “meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization,” and if it does not qualify for such classification, then to detail which specific criteria have not been met.
The legislation would help close a threat that began receiving high profile exposure in December 2001, when the United States Government shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) in Richardson, Texas. As the case was built, and ultimately resulted in a 108 count guilty verdict in 2008, evidence demonstrated that the Muslim Brotherhood had set up a network throughout the United States over nearly 50 years. The findings in the HLF trial were of such significance that U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis published the evidence introduced at trial to ensure its ready availability to the public.
According to the Muslim Brotherhood by-laws, its network includes dozens of organizations who collectively work toward “establishing an Islamic State”, which requires “(t)he Islamic nation” to “be fully prepared to fight the tyrants and the enemies of Allah as a prelude to establishing an Islamic State” (Chapter II, Article 2(E) and 3(E)). Most jihadi groups we are presently battling, including Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Islamic State, share in the canonical-based Islamic beliefs that motivate attacks upon Western nations and values.
In August, I led a Congressional delegation to Israel and Egypt to discuss those countries’ combined efforts to combat Islamic State and Hamas. In our meetings in Egypt, we were asked repeatedly why the United States has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, but not the Muslim Brotherhood, its parent organization and ideological fountainhead. We raised this issue with U.S. officials in Egypt who indicated that our support for Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood-led government still resonates among our regional allies.
The Cruz/Diaz-Balart legislation, if passed, will greatly improve U.S. relations with allies in the Middle East, particularly those who are increasingly reluctant to trust in our commitment of support. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all of whom have already designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, have been looking for American leadership in their campaign against jihadist groups who target us all.
America’s response has lacked vision and resolve, and the region is consequently gravitating toward Russian leadership. This effect is easy to comprehend considering that Russia has already demonstrated its own understanding of such threats, including by designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
With an established Muslim Brotherhood network throughout the United States friendly to the ISIS ideology, and dozens of U.S. citizens confirmed to have traveled to the Middle East, joined ISIS, and returned to the U.S., the elements are in place to carry out attacks similar to Paris here at home. The Islamic State video released the morning of Monday, November 16, announcing that Washington, D.C. is on its list of targets, is a threat that the group can likely carry out anytime and anywhere as it did in Paris.
Time is on our enemies’ side. They have patiently built their U.S.-based network over decades and will strike at a time of their choosing. The American people’s response to radical Islamic terrorism has been to demand its prosecution anywhere it threatens our national security and interests. The Cruz/Diaz-Balart legislation will provide a necessary boost to our government’s efforts by helping to clearly identify and expose the ideological mother ship of the modern jihadist movement, which threatens the very existence of western, liberal society today. Sadly, our government has been hesitant to name them, but the fact is that we know who they are. It’s time we finally go after them.
Kimball is the director of U.S. Operations for the Israel Allies Foundation, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. He served as staff director of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus from 2006-2008.