Peter Bergen testified today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on potential threats to the U.S. from ISIS, and refugee resettlement efforts.
Portions of the testimony are excerpted below:
"But how big a terrorist threat do Syrian refugees really pose to the United States? Animating the fear of accepting refugees is the belief that terrorism is a threat that infiltrates the United States from abroad. Yet a survey by New America of 330 individuals accused of jihadist criminal activity in the United States since 9/11 found that more than eight in ten were American citizens. Among those 330 jihadist terrorism cases, none involved a refugee plotting or conducting an attack inside the United States."
"The record simply does not provide support for fears of a significant threat from terrorists infiltrating as refugees. To the extent that there is a problem with refugees radicalizing, it is a homegrown problem similar to the radicalization of American citizens. Sometimes cited to justify fear of a refugee threat, the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, were both minors when their parents brought them to the United States from the former Soviet Union. They radicalized in the United States only around a decade after they had arrived in Boston. At the time of the bombing one of the brothers was an American citizen and the other had American residency."
"Today more than half of Americans polled say the States shouldn’t take any Syrian refugees fleeing the terrible war in Syria and the brutal rule of both Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and of ISIS. Pandering to this anti-refugee sentiment may be easy politics but it isn’t in the American spirit as best expressed by Emma Lazarus: 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.'"
Read the full testimony here.