Judge Allows Convicted Terrorist To Retain His US Citizenship

Brooklyn Bridge with WTC

Citizenship in the United States is nothing less than a priceless treasure. Recently, the US Government sought to revoke the citizenship of Iyman Faris, a convicted terrorist who was a naturalized citizen. The government was unsuccessful with the process of denaturalization in Federal Court. Judge Staci Yandle of the 7th Circuit recently held that the government did not provide sufficient evidence to convince her that Iyman Faris’ misrepresentations on his immigration papers had influenced the decision to make him a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Faris was sent to New York by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2002 to case and conduct surveillance on the Brooklyn Bridge and determine whether Al Qaeda could drop the iconic bridge by cutting the steel cables using blow torches. While in an Afghan terrorist camp Faris met Osama Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda operatives.

Faris was born in Karachi, Pakistan on June 4, 1969. In March 1994, he entered the United States in New York using a passport and visa belonging to another person. Faris requested political asylum and filled out a “Request for Asylum with Immigration” in July 1994. While his political asylum request was pending, Faris married Geneva Bowling a U.S. citizen in 1995. Marrying a US citizen meant that Faris could then file a “Petition for Alien Relative” and be recognized as an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen. Faris also filed an “Application to Register as a Permanent Resident or Adjust Status.” Due to Faris’ application to Adjust Status because of his marriage, INS never considered Faris’ request for political asylum. In March 1996, Faris was granted permanent resident status and in 1999 became a naturalized citizen.

In 2000, during divorce proceedings from his wife, Faris asked the Court for a continuance since he stated he needed to travel to the Middle East for a family emergency. Instead, Faris traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he went to an Al Qaeda training camp and met Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Upon his return to Columbus, Ohio, Faris, the commercial truck driver was on a different mission to strike the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris and his ex-wife would both be interviewed by the FBI after the September 11th attacks. Faris conducted research on the internet of the Brooklyn Bridge before he physically traveled to the Bridge to case this iconic target in New York City.

Terrorists have used almost every way to enter and stay in a country. Faris used another person’s passport and visa to travel to the United States. Once in the United States he requested political asylum to stay in the country. This is one of the oldest ploys to be allowed to stay in a country and Faris also took advantage of this loophole just like other terrorists. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual adviser to the first World Trade Center terrorists also used an asylum to thwart his deportation back to Egypt. Ramzi Yousef arrived at JFK International Airport in New York from Pakistan on September 1, 1992. Yousef was using an Iraqi passport and didn’t have a visa and his boarding pass was under the name of Azan Mohammed and he arrived in the US with multiple IDs in other names. The INS Inspector recommended that he be detained. But since he was seeking political asylum he was released on his own recognizance and told to show up for a political asylum hearing at a later date. Needless to say, Ramzi Yousef wasn’t interested in asylum but in conducting a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Mir Aimal Kansi, who killed two CIA officers and Gazi Abu Mezer, who attempted to blow up a New York subway train are two other terrorists that used political asylum to stay in the United States.

Once allowed to stay in the country a terrorist has to find a way to extend his ability to stay or change his status. Marrying an American is one method we have seen terrorists use. Iyman Faris married Geneva Bowling in 1995. What is not known is whether he was in love with her or just using her for her status as a U.S. citizen.

What we do know is that Iyman Faris was sent to New York to conduct casing and surveillance operations on the Brooklyn Bridge after September 11th for Al-Qaeda. Whether he should retain his naturalized citizenship was the question before a Federal Judge. Just knowing that he was attempting to help Al-Qaeda after September 11th alone one might think would be grounds for denaturalization. Arriving in New York and using another person’s passport and visa one would think would be grounds as Iyman Faris did when he first arrived in the United States. Traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan and going to an Al-Qaeda training camp and meeting with Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad one would think might be grounds. Returning to the United States and undertaking casing operations against an iconic target in New York one would think might be grounds for denaturalization.

The US Supreme Court in Costello v United States held that the Government “carries a heavy burden of proof in a proceeding to divest a naturalized citizen of his citizenship.” The US government brought a denaturalization action against Fedorenko a former armed guard at the Nazi concentration camp at Treblinka in Poland alleging he had procured his US citizenship illegally or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact. The Government charged that Fedorenko, in applying for his visa and for citizenship, had willfully concealed that he had served as an armed guard at Treblinka and had committed crimes against inmates of the camp because they were Jewish, and that therefore he had procured his naturalization illegally or by willfully misrepresenting material facts. The US Supreme Court in Fedorenko v United States held that Fedorenko illegally procured citizenship and his citizenship must be revoked.

But in Faris’ case Judge Yandle decided the government did not provide sufficient evidence to convince her that Faris’ “misrepresentations” on his immigration papers had influenced the decision to grant him citizenship, and therefore ruled in favor of the convicted terrorist. There was no mention of the fact in the Court’s opinion that Faris had used another person’s passport and visa to actually enter the US. There was no mention of “terrorist tradecraft” to enter a country includes using another person’s passport or identification. Or that terrorist tradecraft includes seeking “political asylum” since this is a loophole terrorists have utilized numerous times or marrying a citizen so that one can remain in a country where one is planning terrorist operations. Iyman Faris took the below Oath of Allegiance to the United States when he became a naturalized citizen.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

It seems that he didn’t take this oath of allegiance seriously and instead targeted his new country for Al-Qaeda. And now he wants to retain his citizenship. The government should appeal Judge Yandle’s decision and should be able to take into account the original statements and materials from his application for asylum as well as the facts that he arrived in the country using someone else’s passport and visa as well as the fact that he had multiple identifications in other names on him. In 2003, Faris was sentenced to 20 years and thus just has a few years left on his sentence before being released. If he retains his US citizenship he will be released within the United States. Or if Judge Yandle’s decision is successfully appealed, Iyman Faris can then be deported back to Pakistan once he has served his sentence.

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The New Age of Martyrdom: Suicide Attackers and Bombers Training

New Age of Martyrdom picture

Northern Virginia National Capital Region     August 21-23rd

 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement Officers, Supervisors, SWAT, Intel Analysts, Security Officials, Special Event Planners, EOD teams, Military Personnel, and Emergency Management Personnel. Registration is limited so sign up early.

Participants will learn first hand about the operational methodology of terrorists attacking special events, airport and transportation hub attacks, conducting targeted violence, vehicle ramming attacks, Inside the Bataclan Attack, Terrorists targeting Tourists, Hotels, Museums, Shopping Malls, Religious Institutions and other targets. Participants will explore the Evolution of Suicide Bombings and Attacks, Complex Attacks with Firearms, Ramming Vehicle Attacks, Knives, Axes and Hammers, Understanding the Ideology and Mindset, and Targets in Your Jurisdiction and a Protocol for Dealing with these Challenges.

TRC has always believed in conducting field research. One can’t gain a true understanding of these attacks without having been on the ground and at the sites of these attacks. TRC staff have been on the scene of bombings, interviewed victims, witnesses and first responders at these horrific attacks. The TRC maintains one of the largest databases on suicide bombings and attacks.
Each Participant will receive a copy of the Terrorism Research Center’s “The New Age of Martyrdom: Suicide Attacks and Bombings.”

For additional information about registration, course content and the program contact the Terrorism Research Center at trc@mirrorimagetraining.com

 

 

 

The Russian Threat Takes Many Forms: Cyber, Ricin, Polonium-210, Novichok and Putin

Putin's World

It should surprise no one that Russia seeks to gain an advantage over the United States. The Special Prosecutor’s Indictment of 12 Russians from the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU) Units 26165 and 74455 for cyber operations during the last election should surprise no one. Recently, Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Armed Services Committee said that Russia wants to “disrupt the normal channels of communication and create an environment of misinformation and distrust.” Misinformation and distrust are just two initial steps that Russia seems to undertake besides a host of others in various information warfare campaigns undertaken. Misinformation followed by fear are all hallmarks of what President Putin knows best.

Russia is an adversary of the United States and has been for some time. For years, New England fishermen spoke of Russian trawlers off the coast. Don’t the Russians have fish off their own coasts? It’s one thing for fishing boats to venture out to the Georges Banks from Gloucester, New Bedford or Newport but to come to the coast of the US from Russia on a fishing trawler is another thing. But these Russian trawlers were “fishing” or collecting intelligence because the Navy had ships and submarines coming in and out of Newport and Groton. Russian ships have been lurking around underwater fiber-optic cables in California. In September 2015, the Russian ship Yantar, was off the coast of Kings Bay, Georgia just where the US has a submarine base collecting intelligence.

On August 31, 2018, the United States ordered the closure of Russia’s San Francisco Consulate. The San Francisco Consulate was the hub for all of Russia’s intelligence collection on the west coast. Military and economic espionage was the forte of the majority of those so-called Russian Diplomats assigned to the San Francisco Consulate. One day in particular, a Russian “diplomat” in a business suit traveled over the Golden Gate Bridge heading north and getting off on Rt. 1. The Russian passed by Muir Beach to finally be observed at Stinson Beach by the water’s edge with a device in his hands. After a few minutes the Russian Intelligence officer in a business suit left the beach.

While the activities of Russia have increased in the cyber domain, the Chinese, Iranians and others are all seeking an advantage against America. America must confront these cyber threats with vigor. We are just at the water’s edge when it comes to information warfare. Stealing information or manipulating it are two examples from Putin’s playbook. But he also has a sinister side that favors violence. This is an area that our government and others can’t overlook. The Russian government has undertaken a targeted assassination campaign against individuals using Ricin, Polonium-210, and Novichok among other weapons.

Forty years ago, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissent who escaped to England was working for the BBC and Radio Free Europe. On September 7, 1978, as Markov was at the Waterloo Bridge bus station, an assassin injected a Ricin capsule into his thigh. The assassin used an umbrella that fired a Ricin capsule into the target. The umbrella weapon was created by the technical staff of the KGB.

In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB officer was poisoned in the Millennium Hotel’s Piano Bar in London. Litvinenko had received political asylum and had been providing information on Russian mafia operations and ties to President Putin. Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi were sent to poison Litvinenko using Polonium-210 which they put in his tea. In 1997, Litvinenko was ordered to coordinate the assassination of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Instead, he warned Berezovsky. In 1998, Litvinenko accused his FSB supervisors of seeking to kill Berezovsky. Berezovsky was an early supporter of President Putin but later was a fierce opponent. Putin took these actions by Litvinenko as an act of treason. Litvinenko and his family sought refuge in England.

Sir Robert Owen, who led a British inquiry into the poisoning of Litvinenko found “that the FSB operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by Patrushev (head of the Russian Security Service in 2006) and also by President Putin”

On March 4, 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, and his daughter Yulia were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok in an assassination attempt. Novichok is a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Skripal and his daughter survived but there were other victims. Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were both contaminated. Dawn Sturgess died in Amesbury after coming in contact with the nerve agent. Years earlier, Skripal who acted as a double agent for MI-6 was traded for Russian spies held by England.

Russia has become emboldened with these attacks and will continue to push the envelope if nothing is done to reign them in. Russia has been an enemy of our freedom and is nothing short of an economic, military and political adversary. Whether with cyber operations against our elections, stealing economic secrets from Silicon Valley, or collecting intelligence the Russia Bear is very active on all fronts. With their targeted assassinations of so many individuals in England, Putin has shown a propensity towards violence that goes against all international laws and civilized norms. Expelling diplomats does not send the right signal or cause any discomfort to Putin or those decision makers around him. The US and the rest of the western world needs a comprehensive plan to contain the bear before it thinks this is the norm.

America’s 242nd Birthday-July 4th Celebration

John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail from Philadelphia after Congress declared the Colonies independent. “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. Church bells rang out, drums and cannons sounded, and bonfires were lit as the people of Philadelphia people celebrated their new independence. Copies of the Declaration were dispatched with riders on horseback to the 13 colonies. When the Declaration of Independence was read in New York City, a riot broke out and a statue of King George III was torn down.

On August 2, 1776, the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence took place. Fifty-six delegates signed the Declaration with John Hancock signing his name first and making his signature the largest. By putting their names on this Declaration, they were risking not only their freedom but their lives. This was an act of treason against the King. Ben Franklin said, “we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” These men were willing to risk all for a free and independent country. Enjoy the Fourth of July and remember the sacrifices others made so that we could be free and independent. Happy Birthday America!