House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is sounding the alarm that the Obama administration’s plans to resettle 2,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. this year represents a real and “very dangerous” terrorist threat.
In a letter to President Obama dated Thursday, McCaul expresses concerns about the heightened threat of infiltration into the process by terrorists.
“It is my understanding that the Department of State intends to admit 2,000 Syrian refuges this fiscal year and many more in 2016 and beyond, in addition to more than 500 admitted since 2011,” McCaul wrote. “While we have a proud history of welcoming refugees, the Syrian conflict is a unique case requiring heightened vigilance and scrutiny. It presents the single largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in history, including those associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al Qaeda, and Hezbollah.”
According to McCaul, there is a real a risk that terrorists will seek to exploit such a refugee program get into the U.S.
He noted that terrorists have already manipulated America’s refugee programs in the past. For example, the 2009 resettlement of two terrorists in Bowling Green, Kentucky who were responsible for killing four American soldiers in Iraq in 2005. McCaul explained:
Our screening processes currently suffer from vulnerabilities given the dynamic terror threat environment in Syria, the lack of intelligence sources on the ground, and the paucity of biometric and biographic information needed to conduct hight-confidence assessments. As FBI’s Assistant Director for Counterterrorism testified before the House Homeland Security Committee in February, due to the lack of a U.S. footprint on the ground in Syria ‘the databases won’t have the information we need’ for effective vetting.
He further requested a classified interagency briefing for his committee about the plans and the concerns at hand. He noted that the administration failed already to respond to another letter on the concerns from back in February.
“Our outstanding questions have taken on greater urgency after ISIS demonstrated it ability to infiltrate and seize refugee camps in Syria earlier last month,” he wrote, going on to add he is “hopeful that your Administration will cooperate with my Committee in earnest to that we can help ensure the safety of the American people.”