When arguing with the Left about matters of national security and terrorism, one becomes accustomed to their habitual moving of goal posts and artificial construction of sample sizes that deliberately exclude relevant cases.
The most notorious example, of course, is the beloved “since 9/11…” canard, such as the oft-repeated although false claim that since 9/11 right-wing terrorists have killed more Americans than Islamic terrorists.
The recent executive order by the Trump administration on immigration led to an urgent desire to proclaim that there is no terrorism threat from immigrants. The most egregious example: A tweet from The New York Times’ White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, who is also a CNN analyst. She posed the question, “Other than San Bernardino shootings, has there been a terrorist attack involving a non-US-born attacker since 9/11?”
Of course, there is no sensible reason for excluding San Bernardino shooter Tasheen Malik, who was born in Pakistan, from a list of terror attacks. The attack killed 14 and took place only last year.
But even within the confines of such a ludicrously constructed sample, the question surprised more up-to-speed denizens of Twitter, who quickly bombarded Haberman with lists of successful and unsuccessful attacks carried out by non-U.S.-born individuals, including some of the most notorious recent terror attacks.
Yes, Foreign-Born Immigrants Have Committed Terrorism
The 2015 Chattanooga Recruiting Center shooter, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was born in Kuwait and lived in Jordan before migrating to the United States at the age of six. He killed five people.
Ohio State University attacker Abdul Razak Artan, who ran over several fellow students with a car before attacking them with a butcher knife, was a refugee born in Somalia who had only been in the United States for two years.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, born in Afghanistan, detonated a bomb near a 5K run event, then another in downtown Manhattan in October of last year.
Dahir Adan, a Somali born in Kenya who immigrated to the United States as a child, launched a mass stabbing attack at a St. Cloud Minnesota mall in 2016. And these are only a few recent examples.
Let’s Just Define Away Counterexamples
While it might be amusing to imagine that a mainstream media figure of some note is totally oblivious to any of the details of recent terror attacks, it’s almost beside the point. Had Haberman known better, perhaps she’d have simply constructed a question that did meet what appears to be her preformed opinion that foreign-born individuals are nearly incapable of representing a threat.
That was the position CNN took in its piece on the Trump administration’s executive order. The piece moved the goal posts yet again, insisting that no refugee had carried out a fatal terror attack in the United States. That’s surely cold comfort to the families of those killed by Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, two Iraqi refugees settled in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
After their fingerprints were discovered on Iraqi IEDs, the two Iraqi refugees were caught in an FBI counterterrorism investigation, where Alwan bragged about using a sniper rifle to kill American troops abroad. The two plotted to kill returning U.S. troops as well. An IED constructed by Alwan is believed to have killed four Pennsylvania National Guardsmen in 2005.
That case resulted in a six-month freeze on Iraqi refugee resettlement in 2011 as U.S. authorities attempted to clamp down on serious screening problems. But, according to CNN’s twisted logic, these Iraqi refugees were never a threat. Ironically, the more attacks American law enforcement successfully prevent or mitigate, the less of a threat there is, according to the CNN model.
If one were truly interested in whether there is a terror threat from individuals born abroad, one would examine the totality of activity, not a narrowly constructed definition aimed to minimize it. That’s what senators Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions did last June when they examined 580 individuals successfully prosecuted on terrorism offenses from September 2001 until 2014. According to the senators, 380 were foreign-born and at least 40 were refugees. While not all of those cases involved successful or attempted terror attacks, all involved cases that were terrorism-related.
Haberman’s offhand tweet is a snapshot of the willingness of the mainstream media to engage in reflective self-censoring, a kind of doublethink, where reporters seem to remain proudly unaware of key evidence that would contradict their pre-established conclusions. Unfortunately for The New York Times correspondent, not everyone on social media was inclined to play along.