Prosecutorial Discretion Would Enable Terrorist to Remain in the U.S.

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By Michael W. Cutler

Mike is a Senior Fellow with CAPS and retired INS Senior Special Agent. During his 30-year career with the INS he rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. He was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and for 10 years was assigned, as an INS Senior Special Agent, to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. He has testified at numerous hearings conducted by committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate and provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

He hosts "The Michael Cutler Hour" on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

The writer's views are his own.

April 24, 2015

On April 16, 2015, a Federal Grand Jury in the Southern District of Ohio (Eastern Division) handed up a criminal indictment charging a naturalized United States citizen, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud a/k/a “Ayanle,” a native of Somalia, with three federal crimes:

  • 18 U.S.C. 2339A - Providing Material Support to Terrorists (Count 1)

  • 18 U.S.C. 2339B - Providing Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (Count 2)

  • 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2) - False Statement involving International Terrorism (Count 3)

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud's mugshot
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud’s mugshot.

On the day that the Grand Jury handed up that indictment, Fox News posted an Associated Press report, “Ohio man accused of traveling to Syria, plotting terror act.”

I wrote about this case in my April 20, 2015, article for FrontPage Magazine, “How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations.” In it, I noted that in order to acquire U.S. citizenship via the naturalization process, Mohamud had to complete the Application For Naturalization (Form N-400). Part 11 includes questions about whether or not the applicant had ever been arrested and/or been involved with any foreign organizations. There also are questions that relate specifically to any involvement with terrorist organizations. Given the allegations contained in the indictment, if proven true, Mohamud had to have lied in responding to these questions.

This is critical. If Mohamud were to be successfully prosecuted for lying on his application for naturalization, thereby committing fraud, he could, upon conviction, be stripped of his U.S. citizenship and be deported from the country. If this action is not taken, he will retain his U.S. citizenship and be able to remain here as long as he lives, even after he serves his prison sentence, presuming he is convicted for the crimes for which he is charged.

The U.S. does not deport its citizens. However, when it is proven that an alien lied on his/her application for U.S. citizenship about material facts, that alien may be stripped of citizenship and become deportable (subject to removal).

It must be remembered that Mohamud is accused of seeking to enter the U.S. to assassinate American soldiers at home and/or attack prisons.

Yet the indictment does not charge him with lying on his application for U.S. citizenship; he was charged with lying to an FBI agent about his travel overseas.

The obvious question is why the federal prosecutors in this case did not also charge him with lying on his naturalization application. Ample information concerning this issue is provided in Mohamud’s indictment. In electronic communications with his brother, who was killed in combat in Syria, Mohamud stated he had acquired U.S. citizenship in order to obtain a U.S. passport to facilitate his travel to the Middle East.

Why on earth would the U.S. government not do everything possible to permanently remove Mohamud, and the threat he poses, from our country, presuming that he is convicted of the charges for which he was indicted?

An April 16, 2015, New York Post article, “ISIS-trained Ohio man was ordered to attack US: feds,” pinned down the nexus between Mohamud becoming a U.S. citizen and his departure for the Middle East in these paragraphs:

An Ohio man who left the U.S. a year ago to train with Islamic State jihadists was nabbed by the feds Thursday for allegedly plotting to unleash terror in the country, authorities said.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, left in April 2014 — two months after becoming a naturalized citizen — to train and fight with the extremists in Syria, the Justice Department said, ABC News reported.

The additional question that all of these issues around this case raise is: How does USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) adjudicate applications for immigration benefits, including citizenship? Immigration laws require that aliens who seek to naturalize must possess Good Moral Character (GMC). When I was an INS agent, GMC field investigations were conducted to make certain that this requirement was fulfilled.

The USCIS Policy Manual contains specific guidelines about how the naturalization process is to be conducted, including as it relates to the issue of GMC. Consider that Volume 12 – Citizenship & Naturalization of that policy manual includes Chapter 9 – Good Moral Character [Part F – Good Moral Character] which states the following:

One of the requirements for naturalization is good moral character (GMC). An applicant for naturalization must show that he or she has been, and continues to be, a person of good moral character. In general, the applicant must show GMC during the five-year period immediately preceding his or her application for naturalization and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Conduct prior to the five-year period may also impact whether the applicant meets the requirement.

By ignoring existing immigration laws, this administration continues to endanger national security and public safety and must be made accountable for these outrageous decisions.

Mr. Mohamud was not unique in his desire to obtain U.S. citizenship to enable him to receive a U.S. passport. This tactic has been used by a number of terrorists seeking to facilitate their travel around the world as they go about their deadly preparations.

This statement is contained in Chapter 12 of the 9/11 Commission Report:

For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.

In their travels, terrorists use evasive methods, such as altered and counterfeit passports and visas, specific travel methods and routes, liaisons with corrupt government officials, human smuggling networks, supportive travel agencies, and immigration and identity fraud. These can sometimes be detected.

That chapter of the 9/11 Commission Report also contains the following statement:

All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of U.S. identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.

The significance of that assessment of the 9/11 Commission caused me to cite that statement in my article for my March 9, 2015, article for The Daily Caller, “Congress Has Fully Funded The DHS – America’s Biggest Document Mill.”

A U.S. passport in the hands of a terrorist is a deadly weapon. Our immigration laws must be brought to bear to neutralize this threat.

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