Sessions: More Than 570 Charged, Convicted or Connected to Terror Since 9/11; Almost All Muslims

By Patrick Goodenough | June 13, 2016 | 4:20 AM EDT

This undated image shows Omar Mateen, who authorities say killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, June 12, 2016. The gunman opened fire inside the crowded gay nightclub before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (MySpace via AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jeff Sessions warned Sunday that more attacks like the one on an Orlando nightclub were likely, and disclosed that more than 570 people have been “convicted or charged or connected to terrorism” since 9/11.

The Alabama Republican, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration and the national interest, told Fox News Sunday that data it had obtained so far indicated that “about two-thirds of those people that were charged were foreign born, almost all Islamic individuals.”

“We see apparently today more of these attacks are coming,” Sessions said in reference to the killing early Sunday of 50 people at the Pulse nightclub. In a 911 call shortly beforehand the Muslim shooter pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Omar Mateen was reported to be a New York-born U.S. citizen, the son of Afghan parents.

“It’s a real part of the threat that we face,” Sessions continued, “and if we can’t address it openly and directly and say directly that there is an extremist element within Islam that’s dangerous to the world and has to be confronted. We need to slow down and be careful about those we admit into the country.”

Sessions, a key supporter of and advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, stressed that most Muslim citizens and visitors to the United States were “not violent.”

“But there clearly is a problem here.”

ISIS recently called on supporters to carry out terrorist attacks in Western countries during Ramadan. The Islamic fast month, which this year began on June 7, has a history of inspiring jihadists.

Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) – who chairs another Judiciary subcommittee – have been seeking immigration status and family immigration status data from the federal government as they compile information on individuals charged or convicted of terror-related offenses.

In a letter last August, Sessions and Cruz asked Attorney-General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to provide such information for 72 people identified as having connections to terrorism over a one-year period.

They wrote again in December, after the Sen Bernardino attack – perpetrated by the ISIS-inspired U.S.-born son of Pakistani migrants and his Pakistani-born wife – and then again last January, this time adding a request for information relating to an additional 41 individuals, bringing the total to 113.

“Of these 113 individuals, at least 14 were initially admitted to the United States as refugees,” Sessions and Cruz wrote on January 11. “Many more came through other immigration programs. A number of immigrant terrorists were even approved for citizenship. Others are the  U.S.-born children of foreign migrants whose presence in the country would not be possible but for the immigration of their parents.”

“The American people are entitled to information on the immigration history of terrorists seeking to harm them,” they added.

The senators asked the departments to add immigration history data to a chart on the 113 individuals, all of whom were identified between March 2014 and January 2016 as having terror associations.

Of the 113, more than 80 are affiliated with ISIS, according to the data. Other affiliations include al-Qaeda affiliates including Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, Al-Shabaab and Ansar al-Shari’a; groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Ansar al-Islam; and Hezbollah.

Sessions has long raised concern about the large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. from Islamic nations.

Last April, he noted that considerably more immigrants from Muslim-majority nations (about 680,000) had been given green cards over the five-year period from FY 2009-FY 2013 than immigrants from European Union nations (about 270,000).

Since then, the Department of Homeland Security has released its annual Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, covering FY 2014.

According to the latest yearbook, the U.S. issued green cards during FY 2014 to another 148,736 migrants from 46 Muslim-majority nations – a 26.7 percent increase from 117,336 in FY 2013.

That takes to 831,221 the number of migrants from Muslim-majority countries who have received green cards between FY 2009 and FY 2014 – compared to 322,882 from European Union countries.

The Muslim-majority countries accounting for the largest numbers of migrants getting green cards during FY 2014 were Iraq (19,153), Pakistan (18,612), Bangladesh (14,645), Iran (11,615), Egypt (11,477) and Afghanistan (10,527).

Of the Muslim countries, the biggest increases between FY 2013 and FY 2014 applied to migrants from Afghanistan (from 2,196 to 10,527, a jump of 379 percent), from Iraq (from 9,552 to 19,153, a 100.5 percent increase), and from Pakistan (from 13,251 to 18,612, an increase of 37.6 percent).

Looking back over the six year period from FY 2009-FY 2014, the Muslim countries from which most migrants issued with green cards came were: Iraq (102,172), Pakistan (101,962), Bangladesh (89,626), Iran (84,951), Egypt (56,359), Somalia (36,557), Uzbekistan (29,595), Turkey (25,984), Jordan (25,500), Morocco (25,456), Afghanistan (21,170) and Syria (17,702).

According to the DHS, green card recipients may live and work permanently anywhere in the U.S., own property, attend public schools and universities, join certain branches of the armed forces, and apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet eligibility requirements.

Meanwhile the federal government during FY 2014 gave permanent residence to 134,242 foreigners who had been admitted to the U.S. as refugees. Of those from Muslim-majority countries, the biggest groups came from Malaysia (7,473), Iraq (4,669), Egypt (4,200), Jordan (3,719), Turkey (3,581) and Syria (2,329).


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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow