CIS — Sometimes the most newsworthy items come out in the most unlikely places. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the appellate tribunal of the immigration courts, has published an opinion sustaining an immigration judge’s decision to continue the detention of one Hussam Fatahi, allegedly a native of Iraq and citizen of Syria. The facts revealed by the opinion prove, once again, just how vulnerable the nation’s immigration security vetting is.
Let me backtrack for a moment though. In October of last year, I wrote a blog post, “Why Syrian Refugee Vetting Will Be Indisputably Fallible”. In that blog, I laid out reasons potential security threats could penetrate screening procedures, including:
Finally, and worst of all, media stories are also replete with articles reflecting the ease with which “migrants”, apparently including jihadists, are able to obtain perfectly legitimate Syrian documents they will ultimately present to interviewing refugee officers from every country, including the United States. This is because many Syrian government offices have been overrun in the chaos of war, leaving their trove of blank documents — passports, national identity cards, driver’s licenses, etc. — behind for extremist groups and criminal gangs to take advantage of.
Not long after that, FBI Director Comey in testimony before Congress asserted his own concerns about the ability of federal agencies to properly vet individuals pouring out of the remnants of that war-torn and jihadist-infiltrated country — despite which the administration trotted out one Department of Homeland Security (DHS) witness after another in later hearings, to assure members of Congress that things couldn’t be better.
Now, thanks to this published BIA opinion, we have proof positive, and it is contrary to all of those assurances. In January 2014, nearly two years before I wrote my blog post, Fatahi (whose identity and nationality are known based solely on what he says—and clearly his word isn’t worth much) used just such a blank Syrian passport, stolen when Islamic State jihadists overran passport production facilities, to enter the United States. How it came into his hands isn’t known. He’s given several equally implausible stories.
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