A Look Ahead: House Committee on Homeland Security

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Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, announced the following Committee event:

Tuesday, December 4

Subcommittee Hearing: Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Programs

10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 4th in 311 Cannon House Office Building

Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman

Invited Witnesses Include:

Mr. David M. Robinson
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration
U.S. Department of State

Ms. Barbara Strack
Refugee Affairs Division
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ms. Dawn Scalici
Deputy Undersecretary
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Chairman Meehan on the hearing: “From 2004 to 2007, the insurgency in Iraq produced substantial civilian displacement and emigration from the country. In response to the growing humanitarian crisis and pressure from human rights groups, NGOs, and media scrutiny, Congress passed legislation which gave Iraqis who helped the U.S. government or military the opportunity to receive special refugee status and resettlement in the United States.

“While the goal of the legislation was just and moral, in May 2009, two Iraqi nationals who were given refugee status and resettled in the U.S. were arrested and accused by the FBI of plotting to send weapons and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). One of the men, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi had openly discussed his prior experience as an insurgent in Iraq and IED attacks in which he participated.  The fingerprints of Waad Ramadan Alwan, the other Iraqi charged, were traced by the FBI to a component of an unexploded IED that was recovered by U.S. forces in northern Iraq.

“In the wake of these arrests, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that security checks have been expanded to more than 58,000 Iraqi refugees who had already been settled in the United States. According to a February 5, 2012 report in USA Today, intelligence indicates that the threat posed by refugees with ties to al Qaeda is much broader than was previously believed. With the recent movement of AQI fighters into Syria, I am becoming worried that terrorists may try to exploit various refugee resettlement programs via Turkey, Jordan or other countries where many refugees have fled to escape the bloodshed.

“The purpose of this hearing is to identify any remaining gaps in the security screening process that need to be remedied. It is concerning that neither Hammadi nor Alwan had worked for any U.S. organization in Iraq, yet both received refugee status for humanitarian reasons.  It is imperative that the Departments of State and Homeland Security have the strongest possible security screening apparatus so that terrorists are kept out of the homeland.”

***See www.homeland.house.gov for updates.

***Coverage note: All Committee on Homeland Security proceedings are webcast live at www.homeland.house.gov/live-video-feed.