DHS report says foreign-born extremists typically radicalize 'several years' after coming to America

John Kelly.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A new report from the Department of Homeland Security finds foreign-born extremists who plan violent attacks in the United States typically radicalize only after they have lived in America for some time.

"We assess that most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States," the document says, "limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns." In other words, President Trump's suspended immigration executive order — all other controversies aside — may not be the best tool to weed out extremists, because they often aren't radicalized at the time of immigration.

Other key findings in the study, which was obtained by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show and appears to be the final version of a draft document obtained by The Associated Press in February, include the fact that "foreign-born, U.S.-based individuals who were inspired by a foreign terrorist organization to participate in terrorism-related activity were citizens of 26 different countries, with no one country representing more than 13.5 percent of the foreign-born total."

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The top seven countries in the list of 26 only partially correspond to the list of seven countries subject to Trump's order: The DHS report lists Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Uzbekistan, while the the Trump order targeted Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.