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Juliette Kayyem: White House Statistics Linking Immigration And Terrorism Are Misleading

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, second from left, arrives at the Capitol Building in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.
Andrew Harnik/AP

The Department of Homeland Security released a report last week tweeted out by the president that suggested a strong connection between immigrants and terrorism in the United States.

But national security expert Juliette Kayyem said the report is misleading, as it intentionally omits American perpetrators of terrorism.

She accused the Trump administration of “completely lying about numbers.”

“What are their metrics?” she said on Boston Public Radio Wednesday. “It turns out ... that you actually can make terrorism only about immigrants if you define terrorism only as international terrorism and not other terrorism like white nationalism.”

The report focused only on international terrorism or international terrorism-related charges, and the majority of those perpetrators were foreign-born.

“The other turn they did was any person who’s charged with terrorism who might be brought to the United States for trial ... would also be counted because they were in the U.S.,” Kayyem said. “Their numbers are purposefully skewed to give a narrative.”

Kayyem speculated that the doctoring of numbers happened later in the reporting process, and said politicians or staffers might be responsible.

“It was later learned that when the experts at DHS actually satisfied this requirement of figuring out the annual report on terrorism, their numbers were not these numbers,” she said. “In other words, shenanigans went down at the political level.”

National Security expert Juliette Kayyem is the CEO of ZEMCAR, a professor at the Kennedy school and a CNN and WGBH contributor. She also hosts the SCIF podcast. To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.

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