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Analysts at the US Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Trump’s travel ban actually pose a terror threat to the United States.
The DHS report casts doubt on the necessity of the executive order, concluding that citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the seven countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism, according to the washingtonpost.com.
A DHS spokeswoman said the report was “an incomplete product.” Still, it could prove another hurdle in the administration’s effort to restore the travel ban, undermining the White House’s argument that the measure is necessary for national security reasons.
The report was prepared at the request of the acting secretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and does not represent the official position of the Department of Homeland Security.
Gillian M. Christensen, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said: “Allegations by opponents of the president’s policies that senior DHS intelligence officials would politicize intelligence is unfortunate and untrue,” she said. “The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.”
The report does not address head-on whether the temporary ban on people entering the United States from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya is an effective measure.
Based on an analysis of Justice Department press releases, it says of 82 people “who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of any terrorism-related federal offense,” more than half were U.S.-born citizens. The report referenced eight people from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Yemen who it said were convicted of or died in pursuit of terrorism. It said none had done so from Syria and did not specifically mention Libya.
The report also concludes that while terror groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen pose a threat of attacks in the United States, the other four countries are “regionally focused.” That conclusion is based on another, non-classified report.
Trump has said he plans to re-write his executive order — which courts have ordered frozen — and a White House official has said the new version is expected next week.
Though not addressing that directly, Christensen offered a defense of the ban’s national security purpose. “The seven countries were identified by the previous administration as being countries of concern for foreign terrorist travel to the Unites States. Consequently, these countries were the focus of this administration’s initial efforts to enhance vetting for foreign travel to the United States,” she said.