On Tuesday, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security released a report claiming that three quarters of people who committed acts of terror in the United States between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2016 are foreign-born — but that data is likely skewed.
As The Intercept‘s Trevor Aaronson reported after the analysis came out, the DOJ/Homeland report “appears to rely on a data set that has been carefully selected to support the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim policies.”
“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality — our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said when announcing the report’s release. “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.”
As The Daily Beast noted, the report’s assertion flies counter to claims made by counter-terrorism experts, who insist “U.S. citizens have been the majority of the offenders since 9/11.”
“If you’re looking at international terrorism, you’re going to see people with a more international background—that’s just common sense,” said the University of Maryland’s William Brainiff, who leads the school’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism program.
The Beast also noted that “the report’s release appears to have been timed” in conjunction with the Trump administration’s efforts to “to end two U.S. visa programs as a condition of congressional immigration negotiations.” The White House has denied this claim and calls the timing “purely coincidental.”
The Intercept noted that the size of the data set — 549 individuals, 254 of which were non-citizens and 148 naturalized citizens — was not explained in the report. Furthermore, the list ends in December 2016, and previous iterations of the terrorist list, as released by President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, “contained 627 names in 2015 and 580 names in 2014.”