Twenty-three U.S. states shut their doors to Syrian refugees over terrorism fears.
Almost half of all U.S. states (23) have announced that they plan to shut their doors to Syrian refugees over terrorism fears. Among them are 22 Republican states (including Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas, Indiana and Mississippi) and one Democratic state, New Hampshire. “I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” said the governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley.
In a letter addressed to Barack Obama, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, echoed this sentiment, "Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism,” he added.
On Monday, while at the G-20 Summit, President Obama fought back and urged Americans not to confuse “refugees’” with “terrorists.” “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable. It is very important that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence … and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism,” he stated. “When I hear folks say that we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims — that’s shameful,” he added. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are.” President Obama’s administration has confirmed that it is planning to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming budget year. “These refugees are subject to the highest level security checks of any category of traveler to the U.S.,” added the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner.
John Kerry Makes Surprise Visit to Paris
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on Monday night to express the “determination” of the two allies in combating terrorism, stated the State Department. Kerry's trip was not announced in advance because of security concerns. The French government stated only that Mr. Kerry would meet François Hollande on Tuesday morning.
John Kerry, a French-speaking Francophile who has visited Paris more than 20 times as secretary of state, made a passionate speech in Vienna in French, in which he expressed Washington’s solidarity with its “oldest ally” — a country scarred following the “heinous, evil, and vile” terrorist attacks of last Friday night.
Following January’s attacks in Paris, neither President Obama nor John Kerry attended the unity rally on Jan. 11 in the presence of dozens of heads of state and foreign dignitaries, a diplomatic blunder that was criticized in France and the USA. Obama’s administration finally expressed regret for the blunder, and several days later sent John Kerry to visit the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and the kosher grocery store that were attacked.
CIA Calls for More Surveillance
The CIA believes that the Islamic State is most likely planning other similar operations to the attacks in Paris, and warned against “weaknesses” in the surveillance of extremists because of privacy concerns. The Islamic State group is “not content to limiting its killing fields to Iraqi and Syrian lands, and to setting up local franchises in other countries of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, but has developed an external operations agenda that it is now implementing with lethal effect,” said the CIA chief John Brennan.
He went on to state that the intelligence services around the world were working "tirelessly" to prevent terrorist attacks. “We are working very, very closely with our French partners,” particularly to understand the modus operandi of the perpetrators of these attacks, he stressed. However, "the operational security” of extremist networks is “really quite strong," he said.
He regretted that the security services lacked the resources to monitor the communications of extremists. He believes that this is as a result of the revelations released by Edward Snowden regarding the surveillance programs of the U.S intelligence agency, the National Security Agency. “I do hope this is going to be a wake-up call, particularly in areas of Europe where there has been a misrepresentation of what the intelligence and security services are doing,” he stressed. “It is time to take a look and see whether or not there have been some inadvertent or intentional gaps that have been created in the ability of the intelligence and security services to protect the people that they are asked to serve,” he said.