Do you know how the alleged "shopping-mall" bomber entered our country? He didn't cross the border illegally. He didn't sneak in on a ship. He came through the front door at America's invitation.
Nuradin M. Abdi, who was indicted last week for plotting with al Qaeda to blow up an Ohio shopping mall, flew here from Somalia and received bogus "refugee" status in 1999, according to authorities. Prosecutors allege that Abdi then fraudulently obtained a refugee travel document, which he used to fly to Ethiopia for jihad training. After returning, Abdi blended back into the American landscape along with tens of thousands of other refugees from a country known to be a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. Columbus, Abdi's home base, is home to more than 30,000 Somalis -- the second-largest Somali community in the United States, after Minneapolis.
The Somali-al Qaeda connection is well-established. Intelligence reports indicate that Osama bin Laden sent extremists to Somalia in the early 1990s to train and organize the Somali Islamic radical group al-Ittihad al-Islamiya. Bin Laden claimed responsibility for the deaths of 18 American soldiers in Mogadishu. In addition, a Saudi Arabian-based Muslim charity with alleged ties to al Qaeda has been funding refugee camps in Somali border towns. The feds have frozen the Al-Haramain Foundation's assets based on terrorism grounds, but the flow of refugees from the overseas camps subsidized by the group has not been stanched.
Not every Somalian refugee or asylum-seeker is a terrorist, of course. But the system for screening out the well-meaning from the menaces is completely overwhelmed. Claims of "credible fear of persecution" are almost impossible to document but are rarely rejected. Federal homeland security officials are unable to detain asylum-seekers for background checks without the civil liberties brigade screaming "racial profiling." And there is still a woeful shortage of detention space -- just 2,000 beds nationwide -- to hold those with suspect claims.
As a result, thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers who have made flimsy claims of persecution are let loose. As the Department of Justice's inspector general reported, 97 percent of all asylum-seekers from any country who were released from immigration custody were never found again and deported.
Abdi's case cannot be viewed in isolation. At least three other high-profile Islamic militants that we know of exploited the asylum system over the past decade: