U.S. federal courts have convicted at least 549 individuals of “international terrorism-related charges” between 9/11 and the end of 2016, including 402, or 73 percent, who are foreign-born, reveals a new report issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS).
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of DHS charged with enforcing American immigration laws within the country, removed 1,716 aliens over “national security concerns” since September 11, 2001, notes the assessment.
While briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, a Trump administration official said of the ICE removals linked to national security threats:
This is an important statistic to highlight because it’s not always the case that seeking a criminal conviction in our federal courts to be an ideal outcome to protect our national security and certain national interests.
It could be the case that our sources and methods are such that we cannot disclose them or perhaps in some of these cases it’s more ideal to remove the individual through our civil immigration system and get the [individual] out of the continental United States and back to where he or she came from.
DHS and DOJ issued the assessment of terrorism-related activity data in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13780: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.
“There were 549 individuals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses in U.S. federal court. Of that 549, roughly three out four — 73 percent — were foreign-born,” revealed the anonymous Trump administration official.
In a press release announcing the report, DHS and DOJ further explained:
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.
Asked about the statistics covering terror attacks outside the United States, the Trump administration official acknowledged that the report, as required by the president’s executive order, did not focus on incidents of domestic terrorism.
The official explained:
The proportion of these cases that may have involved plotting an attack in the United States versus plotting an attack outside the United States….those issues fundamentally are besides the point.
Our focus here and the important thing here is that we do not admit individuals who become terrorists and plot attacks wherever they may plot them from. We don’t want to be a terrorist safe haven and so whether someone is planning an attack in Syria and/or living in Minnesota. It is not something that is in the best interest of this nation.
According to the U.S. official, the Trump administration will update the report every 180 days.
In fiscal year 2017 alone, “DHS encountered 2,554 individuals on the terrorist watchlist (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States,” noted DHS and DOJ.
“Of those individuals, 335 were attempting to enter by land, 2,170 were attempting to enter by air, and 49 were attempting to enter by sea,” the departments added. “Where consistent with the law, such individuals are denied entry into the United States, while in some cases law enforcement authorities are notified and can take appropriate action.”