Frontpage, April 20, 2015 by
On April 16, 2015 Fox News posted an Associated Press report, “Ohio man accused of traveling to Syria, plotting terror act.” 
My focus today will be on the way that the alleged terrorist was provided with United States citizenship and consequently, a United States passport. The adjudications process failed to uncover material facts that would have barred the individual, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, from becoming a naturalized citizen and hence receive that highly valuable United States passport.
The immigration component of this story and similar stories, has been largely ignored by the media, although the issue about his having immigrated to the United States from Somalia and then becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen was raised in some news reports.
The complete immigration component of this case is extremely important, as you will see — indeed, this element, had it worked as it should have, could have thwarted the ability of this alleged terrorist to have traveled to Syria to join his brother who was killed in combat while fighting on the side of terrorists. This is why I frequently make the point that our borders and our immigration laws are our first and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals.
While the Fox News headline simply identified Mohamud as being an “Ohio man” the body of the article did provide solid information about his country of birth and his having become a naturalized citizen, unlike many other news reports that were content to simply describe the alleged terrorist as simply being “An Ohio Man.”
Here is how the Fox News news report began:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio man traveled to Syria and trained alongside terrorists, then returned to the U.S. with plans to attack a military base or a prison, according to a federal indictment announced Thursday.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a U.S. citizen originally from Somalia, wanted to “kill three or four American soldiers execution style,” according to the indictment. Attacking the prison was part of a backup plan if that didn’t work, the charges said.
The indictment also says Mohamud’s brother, Abdifatah Aden, fought with Jabhat al-Nusrah, a State Department-designated terrorist group, until he was killed in battle in Syria in June 2014.
Mohamud, 23, of Columbus was charged with supporting terrorism, supporting the same terrorist group and making a false statement involving international terrorism when he allegedly lied to an Ohio FBI agent by saying he was in Istanbul when authorities say he was in Syria.
Here is critical bit information contained in the report:
Mohamud became a U.S. citizen in February 2014, according to the government.
The government didn’t say how it learned of the plot, but the indictment mentions two “unnamed” associates of Mohamud in the U.S. to whom he gave information about his activities, including a video of Mohamud carrying an AK-47.
One of them said he believed Mohamud was trying to recruit him to participate in the plot, according to the indictment. The government also said Mohamud made terrorism-related Facebook posts in 2013.
An April 16, 2015 New York Post article. “ISIS-trained Ohio man was ordered to attack US: feds ” pinned down the nexus between Mohamud becoming a United States citizen and his departure for the Middle East in these paragraphs:
An Ohio man who left the US a year ago to train with Islamic State jihadists was nabbed by the feds Thursday for allegedly plotting to unleash terror in the country, authorities said.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, left in April 2014 — two months after becoming a naturalized citizen —to train and fight with the extremists in Syria, the Justice Department said, ABC News reported.
Islamic State wannabe Mohamud — who has posted the group’s propaganda online — was charged with providing material support to al Nusrah, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, according to the feds.
The jihadists trained him in shooting, home break-ins, explosives and hand-to-hand combat, authorities said. He was then ordered to return to the US and commit a terror act, an indictment said.
He returned in June 2014.
A review of his indictment  will dispel any doubts (should any exist) as to whether or not Mohamud made acquiring United States citizenship and a U.S. passport an integral part of his plans, you need to review in which it is alleged that he had communicated with his brother Aden who asked him how his “papers” were coming along. He responded by saying that, having obtained his U.S. citizenship, he was waiting to receive his U.S. passport before traveling to meet Aden. The indictment states that Aden was killed in combat in Syria in June 2014.
When disclosures were made about the NSA spying on Americans the argument was made that this was done to protect our citizens and our nation. I am cautiously supportive of appropriate measures, within reason, being taken to protect us, however, for the NSA to scrutinize U.S. citizens, yet apparently failing to uncover the postings of the alleged terrorist in this case, raises many serious questions.
If the NSA did have this information, was it shared with the DHS?
The indictment states that Mohamud was posting material online about his desire to carry out terror attacks in 2013. How did USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), an agency that is under the aegis of the DHS, conduct its investigation into his application to become a naturalized American citizen at least six months later and then approve that application?
Back when I was an INS Special Agent, applications for naturalization required that a GMC (Good Moral Conduct) investigation was conducted to determine that the alien not only had no criminal convictions but also met other, more stringent standards. Today our government makes a big deal about running fingerprints to verify criminal histories.
A critical question is whether or not any GMC field investigations are still being conducted by USCIS. Indeed, how are applications for citizenship vetted? The likelihood is that there are no such field investigations being conducted. Even without knowing about the FaceBook postings noted in the indictment, it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that individuals who know Mohamud would have potentially raised some questions about his hostility to the United States.
Let’s in fact consider the obvious in this specific case: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud immigrated to the United States from Somalia, a country that has a strong association with terrorist organizations. In point of fact, there have been a succession of reports of young members of the Somali community, from Minnesota and elsewhere, abruptly leaving the United States to join terror groups in the Middle East. At the time he applied for naturalization Mohamud was in his early twenties, an age often shared by terrorists. USCIS adjudicates hundreds of thousands of applications for naturalization each and every year and consequently there is an abject lack of resources available to thoroughly screen each application.
However given the ongoing concerns about terrorism, it would certainly seem that applications filed by those who may be prone to involvement with terrorism should come under extra scrutiny including an actual field investigation.
There is ample justification for such investigation. The USCIS Policy Manual, contains specific guidelines about how the naturalization process is to be conducted. The obvious question hopefully that will be asked at a hearing that should be conducted by Congress is whether or not USCIS is meeting these standards. The consequences can, as we have seen, be of grave significance.
Recommendation: Targeting travel is at least as powerful a weapon against terrorists as targeting their money. The United States should combine terrorist travel intelligence, operations, and law enforcement in a strategy to intercept terrorists, find terrorist travel facilitators, and constrain terrorist mobility.