Trump's Travel Ban Would Not Have Prevented a Single Death From Jihadist Terror

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On January 27, a week after being sworn in as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order instituting a travel ban on foreign nationals traveling from seven majority-Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. New America has collected data on those individuals accused of jihadist terrorism-related crimes since 9/11.

That research shows that of the 95 people killed by jihadist terrorists inside the United States since 9/11, not a single death would have been prevented by the travel ban.

Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents.

Almost half were born American citizens.

Citizenship Status of Jihadist Attackers in the United States

No deadly attacker since 9/11 emigrated from one of the countries listed under the travel ban. Nor did any of the 9/11 hijackers come from one of the travel ban countries.

Origins of Lethal Jihadist Terrorist Attackers Since 9/11

Nor did any of the deadly attackers come from a family that emigrated from one of the travel ban countries. Of the thirteen lethal jihadist terrorists in the United States since 9/11:

●        Three, Carlos Bledsoe,  Alton Nolen, and Ali Muhammad Brown are African-Americans born in the United States, and Bledsoe can trace his family’s military service back to the Civil War.

●        Three, Syed Rizwan Farook, Tashfeen Malik, and Naveed Haq are from families that hailed originally from Pakistan. Farook and Haq were born in the United States while Malik entered on a K-1 Spouse Visa later becoming a legal permanent resident.

●        One, Nidal Hasan, is from a family that came from the Palestinian Territories and was born in the United States. His parents had immigrated to the United States during the 1960s.

●        One, Joshua Cummings was a white convert born in Texas.

●        Two, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, came from Russia as children. Dzhokhar became a naturalized citizen while Tamerlan was a permanent resident.

●        One, Hesham Hadayet, emigrated from Egypt and conducted his attack a decade after coming to the United States. Hadayet was a permanent resident.

●        One, Mohammed Abdulazeez, was born in Kuwait to Palestinian-Jordanian parents and became a naturalized citizen.

●        One, Omar Mateen, is from an Afghan family and was born in the United States. 

Of 15 individuals who have conducted non-lethal attacks inside the United States since 9/11, only three came from countries covered by the travel ban. However, in two of those cases, the individual entered the United States as a child.

Origins of Non-Lethal Jihadist Terrorist Attackers Since 9/11

On March 3, 2006 Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, a naturalized citizen from Iran, drove a car into a group of students at the University of North Carolina, injuring nine people. However, Taheri-Azar, though born in Iran, came to the United States at the age of two. As a result his radicalization was homegrown inside the United States.

On September 17, 2016 Dahir Adan, a 20-year-old naturalized citizen from Somalia, injured ten people while wielding a knife at a mall in Minnesota. However, like Taheri-Azar, Adan had come to the United States as a young child.

On November 28, 2016 Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an 18-year-old legal permanent resident who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia in 2014 -- having left Somalia for Pakistan in 2007 -- injured eleven people when he rammed a car into a group of his fellow students on the campus of Ohio State University and then attacked them with a knife. However, it is not clear that the attack provides support for Trump’s travel ban. Artan left Somalia as a pre-teen, and if he was radicalized abroad, it most likely occurred while in Pakistan, which is not included on the travel ban. Furthermore, it is far from clear that Artan radicalized abroad rather than inside the United States. In a Facebook posting prior to his attack, he cited Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric born in the United States, whose work -- which draws largely upon American culture and history -- has helped radicalize a wide range of extremists in the United States including those born in the United States.

Facing the fact that the travel ban would not have prevented a single deadly jihadist attack, the Trump administration has cited other cases often including ones that the travel ban would have no effect upon.

This post was updated on March 6th to reflect the Trump administration's issuance of a new executive order that excludes Iraq from the list of travel ban countries and to reflect New America's decision to include the alleged deadly attack by Joshua Cummings.

Authors:

Peter Bergen is a journalist, documentary producer, vice president at New America, CNN national security analyst, professor of practice at Arizona State University, and the author or editor of seven books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers and four of which were named among the best non-fiction books of the year by The Washington Post.

David Sterman is a policy analyst in New America's International Security program. He holds a master's degree from Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies.

Alyssa Sims is a program associate with the International Security program at New America.

Albert Ford is a program associate with the International Security and Fellows programs at New America.

Christopher Mellon is a program associate with the Future of Property Rights Initiative at New America.