Criminals, Terrorists, War Criminals Hide in Plain Sight through Immigration Fraud

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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.

October 28, 2013

The 9/11 Commission noted that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were the preferred methods for terrorists to enter the United States and then embed themselves here – not only those who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, but also terrorists found operating in the country during the decade prior to the 9/11 attacks.

On September 13, 2011, the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security conducted a hearing on the topic. The subcommittee chair, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), noted in her opening remarks:

On that day in September we learned a very hard lesson as a 9/11 Commission has noted. For terrorists, they said, travel documents are as important as weapons and four of the 9/11 hijackers had overstayed visas, a missed opportunity to prevent the attacks.

Apparently Rep. Miller understands the need to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the U.S., even while most aliens who violate the terms of their admission are almost guaranteed that ICE will make no efforts to locate or apprehend them.

It is vital to focus on the issue of travel documents. Two recent reports make it clear that aliens who defraud the visa and/or immigration benefits program, and are ultimately found to have committed fraud, may well evade detection for many years. This poses a continuing threat to public safety and to national security.

The first case to consider was reported in an ICE news release of October 22, 2013. In this case, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, age 66, had entered the U.S. as a lawful immigrant in 1995, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004. According to the news release, she had omitted the fact that she had been convicted in Israel in 1969 for her role in the bombings of a supermarket, which killed two people, and the British Consulate in Jerusalem. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crimes, but was released ten years later as part of a prisoner exchange.

When Yousef Odeh immigrated to the U.S., and again when she applied for and received U.S. citizenship, she managed to conceal her background and live among us for 18 years.

The next case to consider is that of Kefelgn Alemu Worku, an Ethiopian war criminal who lied about his name and background when he immigrated to the U.S. He later became a naturalized citizen. Here’s an excerpt from his story reported in the Denver Post on October 20, 2013:

For seven years, Alemu Worku's new identity served perfectly for hiding in plain sight among young men who didn’t know the horrors of political torture and killing back home – and the many other people who didn't want to know.

But a federal jury’s conviction of Alemu Worku this month for immigration fraud – stealing another man's identity and concealing his bloody past to become a U.S. citizen – has energized a hunt by Ethiopian-Americans. They hope to expose hundreds more human rights violators they say are hiding in Denver and other U.S. cities.

Because our screening process failed, here we have a dangerous individual living in the U.S. – in fact, living among people whose families may have suffered because of him.

His case is similar to the many cases involving Nazi war criminals from the Second World War. No one knows how many more such war criminals from Ethiopia and elsewhere are hiding in plain sight today.

What you may not know is that when an alien becomes naturalized he (she) is eligible to ask for a name change. When these newly minted citizens apply for a U.S. passport, that passport will only reflect their new names. I have raised this issue at Congressional hearings because it represents a threat to our national security and to the security of the countries to which these persons may travel, but this obvious danger has never been addressed.

Today, under the auspices of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have been granted identity documents without so much as a face-to-face interview. Comprehensive Immigration Reform would be similarly administered, creating ample opportunity for huge numbers of criminals and terrorists to create brand new identities for themselves. They’d have greater ability to hide in plain sight, posing a clear and present danger to America and Americans.

Incredibly, fraud in the immigration system means a failure to protect America and Americans; yet, nothing is being done to address this serious threat to our safety and well-being.

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