by Michael Cutler
Since the deadly terror attacks of 1993 at the CIA and the World Trade Center, there have been a series of terror attacks attempted inside the United States by radical Islamists.
On September 11, 2001 our nation suffered the worst terror attacks ever carried out within the borders of our country.
Every one of these attacks had something in common: The perpetrators were all aliens who had managed to gain entry into the United States and managed to hide in plain sight, or in the jargon of the 9/11 Commission, they embedded themselves in our country as they went about their deadly preparations.
Our borders and our immigration laws are our first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists who seek to attack America and Americans. Yet this essential fact is blithely ignored by the president, members of his administration, members of Congress who seek to implement a variant of “comprehensive immigration reform” and local and state politicians who proudly proclaim that they have created “sanctuaries” for aliens who have run our borders or violated the terms of their admission into the United States and have violated those critical immigration laws.
On Friday, September 19th, I was a guest on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV hosted by former Congressional Representative JD Hayworth. NewsMax posted a video of my segment with a synopsis of our discussion. The title of this article was: “Michael Cutler: Sanctuary Cities Are Safe Havens for Terrorists.”
The starting point for my interview was an important news report that contained a video clip of an interview that Rep. Jason Chaffetz participated in with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. The title of the report was: “BREAKING: Four Terrorists Captured on US Border on September 10 – Day Before 9-11.”
The video clip of the Chaffetz interview on Kelly’s program also contained a brief video of an exchange between Congressman Chaffetz and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security at a hearing conducted earlier that day. The exchange was infuriating. At first Johnson stated that he was not aware of terrorists running our borders. Rep. Chaffetz then confronted Secretary Johnson, saying that there was information that four terrorists had been apprehended attempting to run our borders at two locations along the U.S./Mexican border. Johnson became extremely uncomfortable and started rubbing his face and all but twitching in his seat. He then claimed that he had heard about it but that they were trying to confirm the information. Next Chaffetz asked Johnson about what level of “operational control” DHS has over the U.S./Mexican border. Johnson said he did not know, whereupon Chaffetz stated that he had information that at present there is 6% operation control.
Secretary Johnson simply stared blankly at Representative Chaffetz.
If DHS has just 6% of “operational control” then we must presume that conversely we have a 94% free-for-all along that critical border. Indeed, the fact that our nation is currently suffering from a flood of heroin that is so severe that police departments around the United States are issuing the antidote to heroin overdoses to their officers and other first responders, would certainly coincide with such a lack of border security. This is why I have come to refer to the DHS as the Department of Homeland Surrender.
During my discussion with JD on his program, I also referenced an exchange between Congressman Lou Barletta and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about whether or not criminals who are known to be criminals in the United States would come forward to participate in an amnesty program. Johnson conceded that they would not. This was covered in a Breitbart News report that was published on September 17, 2014: “DHS Chief Concedes Background Checks for Amnesty Would Not Catch Criminals”
During my interview with JD on his program I also raised the issue of “sanctuary cities” and the impact such policies have on national security. I referenced the fact that New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio had decided, with utter impunity, to provide illegal aliens with identity documents that, as an added “bonus,” would enable illegal aliens to whom those cards are issued to gain entrance into museums and other cultural landmarks in New York City.
While some news programs debated this outrageous program, the focus, for the most part, was the economic cost of providing illegal aliens with the municipal IDs that can be used as a free pass to so many major attractions that would cost thousands of dollars per alien. No one mentioned the cost to national security and public safety under de Blasio’s ill-conceived program by providing illegal aliens with identity documents that could easily enable criminals and terrorists to acquire official identity documents in false names. This violates the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and also violates the REAL ID Act that was enacted as a result of the 9/11 Commission report.
The article that chronicled my interview on NewsMax-TV included this excerpt:
“When we hear sanctuary city, we should think about the word haven, as when the president the night before the 13th anniversary of 9/11 said, ‘we need to deprive the terrorists’ safe haven,’” Cutler explained.What, indeed, could possibly go wrong?
“Sanctuary cities is doing precisely that — providing safe haven, right here in cities across the United States, aided and abetted by this administration that refuses to enforce the laws, and has provided hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens with identity documents,” he said.
“What could possibly go wrong?” Cutler asked.
On September 17, 2014, Homeland Security News Wire published a report with the title: “NYC mayor de Blasio facing criticism for curbing counterterrorism programs.”
This important news report quoted none other than John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and a former member of the 9/11 Commission. Here is a significant excerpt from this report:
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is facing backlash over his decision to curb several counterterrorism programs introduced by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. “He has reassigned people and vehicles and special equipment to non-counterterrorist activities,” said John Lehman, a former member of the 9/11 Commission, who recommended that New York City adopt stronger surveillance initiatives after the 9/11 attacks.I previously wrote about de Blasio’s preposterous and dangerous program in an article I wrote for CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) that was posted on February 25, 2014: “NYC Mayor Determined to Give Illegal Aliens ID Cards.”
The New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, which faced criticism for disproportionately targeting minority youths, has been restricted under de Blasio. Lehman believes the program was instrumental in discouraging would-be terrorists from carrying a bomb or wearing a suicide vest in high-risk areas of New York City. Critics say the policy change may discourage police officers from stopping a person who might appear suspicious. “If you see someone with a package or a bulky vest, you are taking a great risk if you stop and frisk them. If the person is a person of color and not carrying a bomb or evidence of potential terrorist risks, as a cop you’re in big trouble,” Lehman said.
The Hill reports that de Blasio has also been criticized for approving a program to issue municipal IDs of standards lower than those mandated by the federal government’s Real ID program. The municipal IDs are intended to serve undocumented immigrants and residents who may not be eligible for regular state IDs under the Real ID program. “They’re completely opposed to Real ID and the other issues that were adopted by Congress as a result of our recommendations,” Lehman said.
The Real ID Act of 2005 requires verified proof of identification, like birth certificates or social security numbers, before state identification cards are issued to residents. “You need a reliable way of identifying people. You don’t simply issue ID cards willy nilly to anybody who wants them and shows up and has his picture taken and tells you what his name is,” Lehman said.
These issues all raise the question: Why on earth would the government of the United States embark on a program of providing documents to aliens who evade our borders and the lawful inspections process that are supposed to prevent the entry of aliens whose presence would be problematic for the United States — including international terrorists and transnational criminals?
It is unfathomable that the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission are never raised by the members of Congress or other politicians who support “comprehensive Immigration reform.” This includes Texas Governor Perry who has been certainly sounding the alarm that terrorists are entering the United States by running our borders but then has repeatedly stated that the border must be secured before we can deal with the millions of illegal aliens who are present in the United States.
The issue is that the terrorists who have managed to evade the Border Patrol are already among those unknown millions of illegal aliens present in the United States. There is no possible way for USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the division of the DHS that would be responsible for processing those millions of illegal aliens, to actually conduct in-person interviews with these foreign nationals who snuck into the United States. There are no resources to conduct any sort of field investigations of these aliens either. The applications would simply be processed by mail without the ability to corroborate any of the information contained in those applications.
On September 10, 2014 the New York Times published President Obama’s “Remarks on the Fight Against ISIS,” which he delivered that same evening, just hours before the 13th anniversary of the worst terror attacks ever carried out on American soil. It is important to consider this excerpt from that speech:
So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.
That last sentence bears repeating:
“This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
It is worth noting that Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, also noted that the terrorists who carried out the attacks of 9/11 would be deprived “safe haven.”
Here are a few excerpted paragraphs from his speech that are well worth remembering:
On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking, “Who attacked our country?”
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money, its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.
President Bush went on to say:
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice, we’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans. Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security.
Let’s go back and consider the sentence that should be the focus of everyone’s attention today:
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
There are a couple of “take-aways” to consider in those paragraphs. First of all President Bush, not unlike President Obama, made it clear that terrorists must be deprived “safe havens.”
Second, President Bush also noted that the U.S. Embassies at Tanzania and Kenya had been attacked by the terrorists who also bombed the USS Cole.
It is worth considering the attack that was carried out last year at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
A documentary film was recently released about this horrific, devastating attack that is currently airing regularly on HBO. On September 14, 2014 the New York Times reviewed the film and gave that review the title, “In This Horror Film, Blood Is All Too Real / ‘Terror at the Mall’ on HBO Documents an Attack in Kenya.”
Here is how the extensive review of this documentary begins:
One year ago, gunmen from the Shabab militant group in Somalia laid “siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Armed with AK-47s and grenades, they stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back.
The British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage gleaned from more than 100 security cameras inside the mall, video from television crews and modest cellphones, as well as still photographs. Then he and his team tracked down more than 200 people and interviewed 82 of them on camera, many survivors or their rescuers.
The result is a harrowing hourlong documentary, “Terror at the Mall,” airing on HBO on Monday night. Tracer bullets slash across blurry closed-circuit footage, blood stains tile floors where children skipped moments before, and family members recount in horrific detail the deaths of loved ones.
This documentary should be required viewing by every member of the Obama administration who has even the most tangential involvement with national security issues. It should be required viewing for every member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate and their respective staffers. Finally, every mayor, governor, state and local legislator and every chief of police must also be made to watch this film.
The mayors and governors who have declared their towns, cities and states sanctuary cities should be required to watch this documentary as many times as it takes to get them to reverse their deadly policies.
What transpired in Kenya could easily, God forbid, take place in any of the malls to be found in towns and cities across our nation. Several weeks ago I wrote an article about the foolish idea that all that DHS needs to do to protect our nation from terrorists and transnational criminals is to simply secure the border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico. The title of my article was: “Border Security and the Immigration Colander.”
Certainly it is important to make certain that we keep terrorists off of airliners. However, this is only one of many, many vulnerabilities and most of the other such vulnerabilities are being utterly ignored.
For several years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 politicians from both political parties repeated what became the virtual mantra that justified our military actions overseas: “We are fighting them (the terrorists) over there so that we will not have to fight them over here.”
It should be obvious that such statements are baseless and in point of fact, absurd. The terror attacks of 9/11 were carried out over here – at the World Trade Center in New York City, at that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
Subsequent terror attacks were also attempted within America’s borders.
For example, on May 1, 2010 Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized United States citizen who was born in Pakistan attempted to carry out a terror attack by setting off a bomb in an SUV that he left parked in New York City’s Times Square, often referred to as the “Crossroads of the World.”
On April 15, 2013 the Boston Marathon was attacked by the Tsarnaev Brothers who, along with their family members, had been, years earlier, granted political asylum, claiming a “credible fear” that they could not safely return to their native Russia. No sooner were they granted asylum in the United States than they hopped on airliners and returned to Russia. It would certainly appear that they lied on their applications for asylum. Yet their deception went un-noticed and unpunished.
On May 2, 2013, I was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News about that terror bombing of the Boston Marathon. The video of the interview was posted on the Fox News website under the title, “Immigration Expert: The System Failed in Boston and Keeps on Failing.”
Thanks to failures in the system, it is not known how many ticking time bombs like Shahzad and the Tsarnaev Brothers are in our midst.
On September 20, 2013 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my article about the failures of the vetting process for alien applicants who apply for immigration benefits: “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Background Checks Require a Reality Check”
On July 30, 2012 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my commentary: “Fraud: The Immigration Vulnerability That Undermines the Immigration System and National Security”
On November 20, 2013 ABC News reported: “Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees”
This is not a new problem, on July 13, 2011 the Washington Times published a truly disturbing article: “Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed / Aim is to find any would-be terrorists”
On July 20, 2013 the Washington Times published another disturbing report: “Homeland Security loses track of 1 million foreigners; report could hurt immigration deal.”
The article published by “My San Antonio” was entitled: “Alleged member of Hezbollah arrested here.”
The article in “The Blaze” was entitled: “Infiltration? The Alarming Details Surrounding Alleged Hezbollah Member’s Arrest in Texas”
While Allouche’s application for naturalization was approved and he was arrested and indicted for committing fraud in filing that application years earlier, what no one has pointed out is that in addition to allegedly successfully gaming the naturalization process, he had been a lawful immigrant for years. He had a Green Card for at least three years before he applied for United States citizenship. It is vital to understand that the lack of integrity to the process by which aliens are granted lawful status in the United States — including resident alien status and United States citizenship — poses an immediate and direct threat to national security.
Just a few weeks ago, on September 2, 2014 ABC News reported, “Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to Track Missing Foreign Students.” The Report read in part:
ABC News found that immigration officials have struggled to keep track of the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign students coming to the U.S. — now in excess of one million each year. The immigration agency’s own figures show that 58,000 students overstayed their visas in the past year. Of those, 6,000 were referred to agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern.This news report was also the focus of my interview by JD Hayworth on the NewsMax-TV program, “America’s Forum” on September 3, 2014.
“They just disappear,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “They get the visas and they disappear.”
Coburn said since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges.
Tightening up the student visa program was one of the major recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, after it was determined that the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, had entered the U.S. on a student visa but never showed up for school.
Back on May 7, 2014 ICE issued a news release about the enrollment of foreign students in the United States: “SEVP report provides snapshot of international students studying in US. International student enrollment up 2 percent at US schools, 75 percent of students from Asia”
Here is the key paragraph from that press release:
As of April 1, almost 1.02 million international students were enrolled in nearly 9,000 U.S. schools using an F (academic) or M (vocational) visa. This marks a two percent increase from January. Seventy-five percent of all international students were from Asia, with 29 percent from China. Saudi Arabia and India had the greatest percentage increase of students studying in the United States at 10 and eight percent, respectively, when compared to January statistics. The top 10 countries of citizenship for international students included: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Mexico and Brazil.It was known that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were among the vulnerabilities that made the 9/11 attacks possible. In fact, on May 20, 1997, more than four years before the attacks of 9/11, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing that was predicated on the two attacks of 1993 (at the CIA in January and the first World Trade bombing one month later) on the topic: “Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud.”
I participated as a witness at that hearing. It was my first appearance before a congressional hearing but would be hardly my last.
On September 11, 2001 as the ashes from the conflagration at what came to be known as “Ground Zero” fluttered down on my neighborhood and, indeed, my home, I was enraged knowing that if the Clinton Administration had acted to close the gaps in the immigration system that were discovered in the wake of the two 1993 attacks, in my judgement, the terror attacks of 9/11 could have been prevented. (I am not being political in that statement; for what it is worth, I am a lifelong registered Democrat. Immigration is not about “Left” or “Right” but about right or wrong.)
Perhaps the highest profile hearing for which I have been called to testify was conducted on March 19, 2002 by the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, on the topic: “INS’s March 2002 Notification of Approval of Change of Status for Pilot Training for Terrorist Hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi.”
This hearing was covered by C-SPAN and the C-SPAN video every member of Congress should be required to watch it. It is unfathomable how twelve years after that hearing was conducted into one of the most outrageous screw-ups that all of the promises to address the failures of the system continue to plague the very same system as clearly evidenced by the “missing” students noted above.
The 9/11 Commission warned about the way that visa fraud and immigration fraud undermines national security and has become the method of choice for terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States.
Here is an important paragraph from the 9/11 Commission Report:
Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States, but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted:
“Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.”It is significant to note that the Seasonal Agricultural Program, also known as the Special Agricultural Program (SAW), was a major component of the 1986 Amnesty and that New York’s then Congressman Chuck Schumer, the leading member of the “Gang of Eight,” was one of that program’s major architects even though there were absolutely no farms in his congressional district when he concocted it.
This paragraph is found on page 98 of the report, under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”It is absolutely imperative that the mission of denying “safe haven” to terrorists anywhere in the world, as called for by Presidents Bush and Obama, be successfully carried out. However, even before our government casts its gaze overseas to countries around the world, the focus must be on the ways that our own “leaders” on the federal, state and even local level are providing safe haven for terrorists and others who pose a serious threat to national security and public safety right here, inside our own country.
It has been often said that “charity begins at home.” Our national security must also begin at home.
When a doctor makes a mistake that injures, cripples or kills his patient he (she) may well face a lawsuit, loss of his license to practice medicine and may even be prosecuted for committing a crime stemming from his malpractice. Police officers who use excessive force may also face similar sanctions, as may other professionals.
As a result of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the only people who lost their jobs were the same people who lost their lives.
The time has long since come for our politicians to be made no less accountable than those in other professions. The impact they have on America and Americans is far greater than that of any doctor or police officer.
Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.