DHS Report Disputes Threat From 7 Banned Countries

In a new blow to Trump’s travel ban, the Department of Homeland Security says citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the US and that few people from the countries banned by Trump have been involved in terrorism-related activities i
The Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters in Washington (File Photo)The Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters in Washington (File Photo)

Analysts at the US Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States.

A draft document obtained by AP concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the US since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.

Homeland Security Spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report’s authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government’s intelligence.

“While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you’re referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official; robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,” Christensen said. 

“The ... report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete.”

The Homeland Security report is based on unclassified information from Justice Department press releases on terrorism-related convictions and attackers killed in the act, State Department visa statistics, the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment from the US intelligence community and the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2015.

The three-page report challenges Trump’s core claims. It said that of the 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were US citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban.

The seven countries were included in a law former president Barack Obama signed in 2015 that updated visa requirements for foreigners who had traveled to those countries.

Christensen said the countries were also selected in part because they lacked the ability to properly vet their citizens and do not cooperate with US efforts to screen people hoping to come to the US.

The report was prepared as part of an internal review Trump requested after his executive order was blocked by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. It was drafted by staff of the DHS’s Intelligence and Analysis Branch at the direction of its acting leader, David Glawe.

  Contradictions, Suspicions

White House Spokesman Michael Short said this was not the full report that Trump had requested. He said he believes “the Intel community is combining resources to put together a comprehensive report using all available sources, not just open sources, and which is driven by data, not politics.”

The intelligence document was circulated beyond Homeland Security.

The draft document reflects the tensions between the president’s political appointees and the civil servants tasked with carrying out Trump’s ambitious and aggressive agenda. 

Trump has repeatedly complained about leaks meant to undercut his policies and suggested he does not trust holdovers from the Obama administration.

He originally said the ban was necessary to overhaul the vetting system for both refugees and would-be foreign visitors, saying that terrorists may try to exploit weaknesses to gain access to the United States. 

The order sparked chaos, outrage and widespread protests, with travelers detained at airports and panicked families searching for relatives.

A senior administration official told AP on Sunday that a draft of the revised order will target those same seven countries. The official would not be named discussing the document before it is made public.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee on Friday, Trump reiterated his claims on terrorism. He said he singled out the seven countries because they had already been deemed a security concern by the Obama administration.

Highlight: The draft document reflects tensions between the president’s political appointees and the civil servants tasked with carrying out Trump’s aggressive agenda

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