On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded the alarm about the escalating danger of a terrorist attack on America by ISIS and other jihadists. Too bad the Obama administration lacks the resolve or sense of urgency to meet this danger head-on. Worse, political correctness is hindering New York, a likely target, from tracking and stopping the jihadists in our midst.
Holder announced “pilot programs” to “raise awareness,” bringing together religious leaders, community leaders and law enforcement to build “community partnerships.” Sounds heartwarming. The White House will also hold a “summit” next month on how to stop extremism. I hope they serve a delicious lunch.
Summits and community organizing won’t deter jihadists who are threatening to raise the black flag of the Islamic State over the White House. But here are steps that actually would.
I’ve already urged revoking passports of Americans fighting for ISIS (reversing the administration’s dangerous new policy of welcoming asylum seekers who’ve provided only “limited material support” to terrorists), outlawing visas to “study” at unaccredited institutions (visa mills) and cracking down on visa overstaying.
There is strong support in Congress for revoking passports, and bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to do so. But the administration is stalling. Last week at a House hearing, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said he was amazed that “we can revoke a United States passport if … an individual owes arrears of child support in excess of $25,” but the State Department won’t commit to stripping passports from American jihadists. State Department witnesses said they are mulling the issue, even as Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., urged that “time is of the essence.”
Also, the Obama administration should stop bringing in refugees from terror-infested countries like Somalia (our fourth-largest source of refugees) and settling them around the nation. Since 2007, at least 40 radicalized Somali-Americans have joined forces with al-Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaida. Some became suicide bombers, and others killed shoppers in the 2013 mall attack in Kenya. Former FBI head Robert Mueller called Somali-American jihadists one of the “highest priorities in anti-terrorism.” But the Obama administration is actually hiking the number of Somali refugees allowed in this year.
Democrats are also in denial about the risk from lax enforcement of our southern border. At a Sept. 10 Senate hearing, senior Homeland Security official Francis Taylor let it slip that there is ISIS social media chatter about crossing that border. As soon as Taylor’s warning hit the newswires, the Department of Homeland Security backtracked, stating that “there is no credible intelligence” of an ISIS plot to cross the border. Not at the moment.
Democrats in Congress shut down any discussion of the potential risk. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, raged that there is no proof border crossers are terrorists, while Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, deplored the “longstanding history in this country of projecting whatever fears we have onto the border.” Meanwhile, the U.S. is pressuring Turkey to better police its 560-mile border with Syria to stop the flow of fighters to ISIS. I guess not all borders are equal.
Holder is right that local law enforcement is key to stopping radicalization and recruiting. Unfortunately, on April 16, the mayor of the biggest target, New York City, shut down the local police’s unit tasked with watching mosques, Muslim bookstores and other “hot spots” for radicalization. Mayor Bill de Blasio bowed to Muslim advocates and civil rights litigants who claimed the NYPD was profiling. The claim was bogus. In fact, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit alleging profiling in February, because the evidence showed the cops were tracking terrorists, not Muslims.
De Blasio said “easing tensions” was his goal. But there’s nothing like a terrorist attack to make everyone tense. De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey both said the unit was vital to anti-terrorism.
Obama will be in New York next week for a U. N. meeting about foreign fighters flocking to ISIS. It’s a perfect setting for the president: high-minded internationalism and speech making, but no concrete actions to make us safer.
Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution” and founder and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths at www.hospitalinfection.org.