The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday said an internal analysis it conducted of Islamist attacks and plots in the US over the past 16 years had shown that 90 percent were carried out by US citizens or legal residents.
The ADL said its findings cast doubt on the Trump administration’s claims of the dangers posed by Muslim immigrants and visitors, as well as a January report by the Department of Homeland Security which called for long-term surveillance of certain Muslim migrants.
The ADL said of 127 individuals involved in 98 domestic plots based on Islamist extremism between 2002-2017, only 10% involved foreign citizens and undocumented immigrants. The vast majority (72%) were US citizens while another 18% were legal residents.
“We found that the most significant threat of Islamist extremism is homegrown, and that encrypted online platforms continue to catalyze radicalization and recruitment to violence,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
“That first finding undermines assertions made by the Trump administration, that immigrants and foreign born individuals post the greatest threat to our national security,” he said. “We call on policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels to prioritize community first-strategies that effectively prevent all forms of violent extremism.”
The ADL called for an approach that tackles extremism on the ground and online, providing mental health support and enacting “sensible gun control.” It added that “The American Muslim community must be part of the solution.”
The group said the federal government “has an essential leadership role to play in confronting terrorism, extremism, and acts of violence motivated by prejudice. It cannot do so if it scapegoats Muslims, refugees, or new immigrants to the United States.”
The ADL also noted that encrypted messaging services such as Telegram were a growing concern in the spread of hateful ideologies, propaganda and bomb-making knowhow and that authorities should invest in tackling the technological threat.
The US Supreme Court appears poised to uphold President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the US by visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, a move that would hand the president a major victory on his controversial signature policy.
In the court’s first full-blown consideration of a Trump order last week, the conservative justices who make up the court’s majority seemed unwilling to hem in a president who has invoked national security to justify restrictions on who can or cannot step on US soil.
The justices in December allowed the ban to take full effect even as the legal fight over it continued, but Wednesday was the first time they took it up in open court. Trump’s tough stance on immigration was a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and he rolled out the first version of the ban just a week after taking office, sparking chaos and protests at a number of airports.
The justices are looking at the third version of the policy. The first version was blocked by courts and withdrawn. Its replacement was allowed to take partial effect, but expired in September.
The current version is indefinite and now applies to travelers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families. A sixth majority-Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list this month after improving “its identity-management and information sharing practices,” Trump said in a proclamation.
The administration has argued that courts have no role to play because the president has broad powers over immigration and national security, and foreigners have no right to enter the country.
The challengers have said that Trump is flouting immigration law by trying to keep more than 150 million people, the vast majority of them Muslim, from entering the country. They also argue that his policy amounts to the Muslim ban that he called for as a candidate, violating the Constitution’s prohibition against religious bias.
AFP contributed to this report.