Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Senior Official Says Intelligence Indicates Security Threat Much Broader Than 2 Iraqi Refugees in KY

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 5, 2012

A senior Obama administration official says that intelligence indicates the security threat is much broader than the two Iraqi refugees arrested in May in Bowling Green, Ky., and accused of plotting to send weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Obama administration is still trying to come up with a solution that balances national security with its moral obligation to assist Iraqis who cannot safely live in their country. The UNHCR thinks the security net is set too wide. An article in USA Today discusses the issue:

…WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has dramatically slowed the resettlement of Iraqi refugees — including former U.S. military translators and embassy workers — in the midst of growing concerns about al-Qaeda’s potential ties with some asylum seekers, an administration official says.

Two Iraqi refugees who resettled in the United States in 2009 were arrested in May in Bowling Green, Ky., and are accused of plotting to send weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, says that intelligence indicates the threat is much broader than the two refugees…

…“That threat stream led us to re-examine our vetting process for this population and really all of the refugee population,” the official said…

…In September, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel that security checks have been expanded and that more than 57,000 who were already in the United States have been revetted…

…The details of what the enhanced security checks entail are not shared publicly, but refugee information is likely being checked against security, forensic and intelligence databases that were not among those covered by the other security checks, according to the UNHCR…

…”Of course we support the U.S. and all countries having security checks,” UNHCR spokeswoman Charity Tooze said. “It seems that in this instance the net is so wide a huge amount of people who we don’t see as a security threat are getting caught in it.”…

…The Obama administration has held several interagency meetings on the issue since last summer and is trying to come up with a solution that balances national security with its moral obligation to assist Iraqis who cannot safely live in their country, administration officials say…Read more here

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