In December 2018, the Center for Immigration Studies dispatched Senior National Security Fellow Todd Bensman to Panama and Costa Rica to investigate President Donald Trump’s widely ridiculed assertions that suspected terrorists had been apprehended among Middle East migrants through Latin America. Panama is a geographic chokepoint, or bottleneck, through which migrants from countries of the Middle East, who are moving out of South America, must push on their way to the U.S. border.
The following article is based on Bensman’s on-the-ground research over two weeks. His video reports, photos, and writings from the trip can be found here.
Golfito, Costa Rica — It was here in March 2017, at the main aluminum structure of a government migrant camp, that federal Costa Rican police arrested Ibrahim Qoordheen of Somalia as a suspected al Shabaab terrorist operative on his way to the U.S. southern border.
Qoordheen had been smuggled from Zambia to Brazil, passed through Panama, and was making his way north through Costa Rica when the Americans had him arrested here, 20 miles inside Costa Rica, according to an American intelligence official with knowledge of the case who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Golfito camp, with a capacity of 250, was set up as a two-day rest station for South America-exiting migrants whom the governments of Panama and Costa Rica register and help move through northward to Nicaragua.
Golfito migrant camp, Costa Rica where Ibrahim Quoordheen was arrested in 2017. Photos by Todd Bensman.
Golfito migrant camp, Costa Rica.
Luckily, the Somali stayed long enough for an American intelligence analyst working with the name he had provided in Panama to unscramble it and match it to a pre-existing intelligence file that identified him as intertwined with an al Shabaab cell and smuggling network in Zambia, the U.S. intelligence official said.
Defense Secretaries come and go. Obama had four of them in 8 years who had some unkind things to say about his leadership or lack of it. There was no talk of chaos or of the only adult in the room leaving. Suddenly the media is in meltdown after “Mad Dog” Mattis announced his departure from the Cabinet after President Trump announced our departure from Syria:
Foreign Policy Pentagon reporter Lara Seligman wrote the press corp is contemplating suicide over Mattis’ resignation, “I think I speak for all national security reporters tonight when I say I’m about ready to jump off a cliff. But at least I already wrote the “who will replace Mattis” story two months (only two months?????) ago @ForeignPolicy“
Democrats who won’t defend our southern border and who slept as Obama drew red lines in the sand with vanishing ink worry about an ISIS Obama created by a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq regaining strength and reforming in Syria and Iraq. The general Obama fired is suddenly a man of principle whose leadership was indispensable:
Illustrating the national security threats created by the nation’s immigration system, the overwhelming majority of individuals convicted of terrorism are foreigners who entered the United States legally through various federal programs. Three out of every four convicted terrorists between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2016 are foreign born and came to the United States through our immigration system, according to a new report issued jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
At least 549 individuals were convicted of terrorism-related charges in American federal courts since 2001 and 402 of them-approximately 73%-were foreign-born, the report says. Here’s the breakdown by citizenship at the time of their convictions; 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were naturalized and received American citizenship and 147 were U.S. born. Additionally, 1,716 foreigners with national security concerns were removed from the United States. The Trump administration stresses that figures include only those aliens who were convicted or removed and therefore do not represent the total measure of foreign terrorist infiltration of the United States. Statistics on individuals facing terrorism charges who have not yet been convicted will be provided in follow-up reports that will be made available to the public.
This DHS/DOJ report, issued this month, is disturbing enough and reveals that a significant number of terrorists entered the country through immigration programs that use family ties and extended-family chain migration as a basis for entry. Among them is Mufid Elfgeeh, a national of Yemen who benefitted from chain migration in 1997 and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for attempting to recruit fighters for ISIS. Sudanese Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan came to the U.S. in 2012 as a relative of a lawful permanent resident and eventually pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Pakistani Uzair Paracha was admitted to the U.S. in 1980 as a family member of a lawful permanent resident and in 2006 was sentenced to more than three decades in prison for providing material support to Al Qaeda. Khaleel Ahmed, a national of India, was admitted to the United States in 1998 as a family member of a naturalized United States citizen. Ahmed eventually became an American citizen and in 2010 was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
Other convicted terrorists came to the U.S. through the controversial visa lottery program, the multi-agency probe found. Among them is Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev, a national of Uzbekistan who was admitted into the country as a diversity visa lottery recipient in 2011. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS and in 2017 Juraboev was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Sudanese Ali Shukri Amin was admitted to the U.S. in 1999 as the child of a diversity visa lottery recipient and subsequently obtained American citizenship through naturalization. In 2015, he was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Amin admitted to using social media to provide advice and encouragement to ISIS and its supporters and facilitated ISIS supporters seeking to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group. Amin also helped a Virginia teen named Reza Niknejad get to Syria to join ISIS in 2015.
“The United States faces a serious and persistent terror threat, and individuals with ties to terror can and will use any pathway to enter our country,” the new DHS/DOJ report states. “Accordingly, DHS has taken significant steps to improve the security of all potential routes used by known or suspected terrorists (KST) to travel to the United States to ensure that individuals who would do harm to Americans are identified and detected, and their plots are disrupted. These figures reflect the challenges faced by the United States and demonstrate the necessity to remain vigilant and proactive in our counterterrorism posture.”
Regina Mustafa, founder of the Minnesota-based Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam, reached out to Parrish after learning he attended a talk by Usama Dakdok called “Revealing the Truth about ISIS.” Dakdok is one of a number of anti-Muslim speakers who have created a cottage industry touring the country to malign Islam as an inherently violent religion. In his Minnesota presentation, Dakdok said ISIS was the “true representation of Islam.”
Mustafa sent Parrish an email, offering to meet with him face-to-face. “Since you have attended this talk about my faith,” she wrote, “I figured you would also like to hear from a person who actually practices Islam.”
In Parrish’s reply, he condemned Islam as fundamentally incompatible with U.S. law.
First, he claimed to have, “a very unusual in-depth level of training, experience, and understanding regarding multiple faiths and the practice of Islam,” which he has suggested in public interviews is related to his time in the U.S. Naval Reserve working in intelligence.
He continued, “I separate Islam from the word faith because faith takes belief and Islam requires only submission. I will not participate in any faith dialog because Islam is ultimately not a faith.”
Parrish demanded Mustafa “publicly denounce Sharia and swear to adhere to, protect, comply with, accept, and defend the United States Constitution.” He suggested that as a practicing Muslim — or as he put it, “practicing Islamist” — she would be unable to do so. He also wrote, “Islam, Sharia, and the Quran are the antithesis of the U.S. Constitution.”
I’ve seen Phil Parrish speak at a GOP event in Minnesota. He’s a serious candidate. Check out his website. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Send a message to all the gutless politicians out there. Send him some money today.
This man is smart and courageous. He deserves your support wherever you live in the United States.
Vicente Adolfo Solano declared in Spanish, standing in front an ISIS flag. “In the name of Allah and our leader, Abu, we are going to defeat you.”
Solano, a 53-year-old Honduran living in Miami, seemed like an unlikely candidate to join ISIS.
But there he is on video lashing out at President Trump. Solano was resentful over his “temporary immigration status”. Hondurans living in the United States had been automatically converted to “refugees” after Hurricane Mitch in 1999. Temporary Protected Status for the eighteen year hurricane refugees expires in Jan 2018. And President Trump appears unwilling to extend it any further.
Even if Solano was here under TPS, he should still have been deported due to his criminal record. But instead he remained here, and was so furious at the country that had taken him in that he joined ISIS.
After 8 years of Obama’s lies and failures leading to genocide.
Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that ISIS’s “fraudulent caliphate in Iraq and Syria is on the brink of being completely extinguished,” and credited “an aggressive new strategy led by the president.” President Trump trusted his military to carry out a robust strategy to quickly eliminate ISIS’s control of territories from which it could plan and direct terrorist attacks worldwide. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis explained last May, “First, he delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities. Secondly, he directed a tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS.”
Former President Barack Obama had allowed the ISIS cancer to metastasize in the first place, leading to the killing, maiming, kidnapping and sexual enslavement of many thousands of innocent men, women and children. That is because Obama initially considered ISIS a “J.V. team” and then failed to prosecute a meaningful counter-strategy to quickly eliminate the ISIS scourge before its killing machine could become a regional and then a global threat. There has been huge slaughter and a global security threat unleashed thanks to Obama’s handling of ISIS, and the reverse of that trend under President Trump.