On Wednesday evening, June 1, 2016 the National Security Task Force of America (NSTF) of the Lisa Benson Show held a conference call on an Airport Security investigation begun two years ago. Benson held a private conversation with a Southwest Airlines Captain after her presentation in Phoenix. He and other Southwest flight captains were told by the airline not to discuss what they found scribbled in Arabic on the nose of a plane in Salt Lake City, “allahu akbar”.
That conversation triggered an investigation into the award of contracts for airport services with a major international European based firm that operates in more than 77 countries with annual revenues topping $79 Billion, employing over 500,000, receiving contracts over and above competitive bids. They are hiring refugees to handle your bags, cleaning the bathrooms in air planes, and janitorial services in all parts of airports and municipal buildings in America and globally. The NSTFA conducted an investigation in more than 13 major airports on the questionable procurement practices of airport authorities and municipalities. The matter soon turned up evidence that some of these low wage airport workers, a significant number of whom were refugees, may have had possible connections to Islamic terrorist groups. We soon found that 73 Department of Homeland TSA screeners were on ‘no fly ‘lists. Dozens of Secure ID Area (SIDA) badges, giving access to wearers to secure areas on the tarmac went missing at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Young airport. A former aircraft cleaner and fueler, a Somali émigré, left his position at the Minneapolis Twin Cities airport to go to Syria to fight and die for the self-declared Islamic State.
Coincident with the NSTFA telephone briefing was a CNN investigative report about allegedly a former Somali warlord with outstanding war crimes indictments living in the US who, until recently, had worked as security guard at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. This was a perfect illustration of what dozens of participants heard during briefing from Benson, Faith J. Hooper McDonnell of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Religion and Democracy and this writer. We explained how refugee émigrés like Yusuf Abadi Ali can easily become employed at Dulles airport after first obtaining a green card and a welter of cash assistance, health care and housing benefits during the first year in this country. At issue in the Abadi Ali instance is who the airport contracts with to provide airport security and what due diligence on employees is conducted by Dulles Airport authorities. The pioneering 13 major airport investigations by the NSTFA discussed in several Benson programs and by former CIA director Ambassador R. James Woolsey have uncovered the evident lack of competent procurement practices and lack of due diligence by contractors who make a practice of hiring low wage refugee émigrés under the US taxpayer funded multi- billion dollar Refugee Admission Programs (RAP). See: “Is it Safe to Fly“.
Based on the NSTFA study , Benson considers the following US airports as possibly having compromised security: Anchorage, Atlanta Hartsfield-Young, Charlotte, Chicago -O’Hare , Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles International, Minneapolis-Twin Cities, Newark International Airport, , New York ‘s La Guardia and JFK airports, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix- Sky Harbor, Portland-Oregon, Richmond,-Virginia, St. Louis ,Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Tampa.
The Downing of Russian MetroJet and Egyptian Flight 804
Those NSTFA revelations went into hyper drive following the downing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula of a Russian MetroJet Airbus-321 in late October 2015 with 224 passengers and crew aboard. ISIS claimed responsibility for placing an alleged soda can bomb aboard the flight, most likely in one of the baggage holds. That immediately raised concerns about who worked at the Sharm al Sheikh airport that may have been part of an active terrorist cell and had access to the MetroJet during its stop before the fateful downing. This led to a series of programs on the Lisa Benson Show with the theme of “Is it Safe to Fly” in November 2015, January 2016 and May of 2016 featuring former CIA director Ambassador R. James Woolsey. The March 2016 suicide bombings at the Zaventem Airport and a Subway stop near the European Parliament in Brussels revealed one of the Islamic suicide terrorists had been employed by the same international airport and municipality service maintenance contractor.
EgyptAir MSFlight 804 Airbus – 320 went down in the Eastern Mediterranean May 19, 2016 on a flight from Paris to Cairo, with 66 passengers and crew aboard. The New York Times reported that a few years back this same EgyptAir aircraft was found at Cairo airport scribbled with the ominous message: “We will bring this plane down”. The Paris stop of EgyptAir804 brought new questions on possible terrorist involvement and the matter of security access at Charles de Gaulle airport. In the wake of the downing of Flight 804 there were revelations about 73 airport workers fired for involvement in Islamic extremism among Muslim émigrés. 600 applicants rejected for employment for similar reasons from a work force of 85,000 at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. That raised questions of whether Islamic terrorist sympathizers or cell members might have had access to possibly plant possible bombs on the aircraft during its hour and half layover in Paris? Or could there have been a passenger on the flight manifest list who might have had a lap top bomb like the one that blew a hole in an airliner in Somalia in February 2016? Moreover, because of revelations about stolen authentic travel documents from Syria by ISIS operatives found in the refugees stream entering Turkey and Europe, could there been a passenger on board Flight 804 who may have been in possession of legal travel documents covering a false identity? Ambassador Woolsey was interviewed about these issues on Fox News and CNN following the downing of Flight804 during which he revealed elements of the Lisa Benson NSTFA airport investigations.
The Lisa Benson NTSFA conference call addressed concerns over the US Refugee Admissions Program arising from admittance of Syrian refugees despite alleged vetting by US Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Service and evidence of illegal identities using legitimate travel documents.
The Multi-Billion dollar US Refugee Admissions Program controlled by the UN
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), because of conflicts and wars mostly in the Muslim regions in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa estimates there are currently more than 60 million refugees and internally displaced persons. Another 1.2 million persons are requesting Asylum because of religious or political persecution. The UNHCR estimates that one percent of the worldwide refugees are deemed eligible for resettlement. The UNHCR sets the annual priorities for resettlement by region. Enter the US Refugee Admissions Program established under the Refugee Act of 1980. The annual budget for the multi-pronged program involves three federal departments, 9 Voluntary agencies with 350 affiliates in 190 locations and 33 state health and social service agencies. It costs US taxpayers an estimated $3.7 Billion annually based on 2016 Fiscal year estimates. That includes about $1.4 billion in donor funds to the UNHCR and $380 million in donor funds to the controversial UNWRA program. UNWRA supporting four generations of Palestinian refugees, estimated at 4 million, in camps in Lebanon, war-torn Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians are the only refugee group that has not been resettled in the 66 year history of UNWRA. The US is the top donor for both the UNHRCR and UNWRA programs. If you add in the interim welfare, health, education and employment support costs some experts believe the total t cost for the US Refugee Admission Program might be in excess of $10 billion annually.
Source: Center for Immigration Studies
How the US RAP operates
The US is one of 28 countries to which UNHCR refers refugees for admission. The federal agencies involved in the processing of refugee admissions are the State Department Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). As shown in Figure 1, the DHS CIS does screening of referred refugees. As illustrated by the admission of Syrian refugees, the DHS-CIS and other agency security clearances could take upwards of 24 months. The next stop is the State Department, BPRM that places refugees through the network of 10 Voluntary Agencies or VOLAGS, their 350 affiliates in 190 locations throughout the US. As depicted in Table 1, these 10 VOLAGS include a variety of religious and secular groups. They typically are paid $4,000 to $6,000 to place allotted refugees. A few of these VOLAGS also operate Regional Refugee Service Centers abroad. Based on information from IRS Form 990’s for some of these groups for 2015 the 10 Volags had combined federal and matching grant revenues of over $900 million. The two largest are the International Rescue Committee at $456 million and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops/Catholic Charities at $177 Million.
For Fiscal Year 2016, the US has been allotted and Congress has approved 85,000 refugees for resettlement including 10,000 Syrian refugees. In 2017 this allotment increases to 100,000 including 15,000 Syrian Refugees. Added to that figures are approximately 25,000 Asylum seekers, who enter the US at points of entry such as border posts and US embassies and consulates abroad. There are also other categories that exceed these totals. One example is the P-3 Visa program for family reunification. That was closed down worldwide by the State Department for three years during the last decade when DHS CIS roving teams did DNA testing in African refugee camps and found widespread fraud.
Where do these refugees come from and why is there the bias against Persecuted Christians?
Based on data for Fiscal Year 2014, the USRAP admitted 69,987 refugees from 57 countries. More than 62 % were from Iraq, Burma and Somalia. Why Burma? Because the vast majority are from the Rohingya Muslim minority group. If we add the increase of Syrian refugees in 2016 of 10,000, that might add another 13% bringing the total proportion from predominately Muslim countries to nearly 75%. Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom has noted that virtually 97 percent of Syrians admitted during the FY 2015 were Muslim. 62% of Refugees admitted in Fiscal Year 2014 were placed in 12 States. The majority were placed in Texas (10.3 percent), followed by California (8.7 percent), New York (5.8 percent), Michigan (5.7 percent), Florida (5 percent), and Arizona (4.2 percent).
McDonell of The Institute for Religion and Democracy recounted during the conference call the response of an official at the State Department BPRM denying emergency admissions of endangered Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria. The official replied to officials at The Barnabas Fund, a Christian relief agency, “There is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation.” Instead as we have written, the BPRM was poised to admit another threatened minority religious group, the Yazidis, but not Christians. Nina Shea notes that only one Yazidi was resettled in the U.S. in the past five years of Syria’s civil war, even though thousands of Yazidi girls as young as 9 endure unspeakable horror and are often taken as sex slaves by ISIS. We know that Christians in both Iraq and Syria do not seek sanctuary in UNHCR camps for the threat of being killed by ISIS terrorists who infiltrate refugee camps. McDonnell cited Gen. Clapper Director of National Intelligence, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director Comey admitting that Syrian Muslim refugees cannot be ‘properly screened’. The very same Christian VOLAG groups oppose federal legislation that would require proper vetting of refugees and giving priority to persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
The problem of the illegal trade in identities.
During the conference call we cited evidence of illegal trade in legitimate travel documents in Honduras and Mexico involving Syrians, Palestinians and Islamic terrorists. We cited the global dimensions of this problem presented at a SITA airline IT conference in Barcelona by Matthew Finn of the London-based air travel security firm, AUGMENTIQ:
You can’t assess the risk of a person if you don’t know who they are.
One European Union government recently declared that it issued some 6 million passports in 2015. However, it estimated that of these, as many as 650,000—or roughly 10%—were issued to false identities.
Identity fraud is increasing dramatically and the share of fraudulently obtained genuine travel documents accounts for a growing share—as much as 23% in 2009 (the most recent figures available).
Our challenge now is more about determining that the document truly belongs to its holder rather than whether the document itself is a forgery or counterfeit.
He also urged much greater collaboration between all stakeholders, pointing out that Interpol holds a database of 57 million lost and stolen ID documents that, if more widely distributed, could help flag cases of ID fraud.
Where vulnerabilities exist, they will be exploited. If there is no confidence in the integrity of the document issuance process, there cannot be any confidence in the authenticity of the document being presented or the veracity of the holder’s identity.
If we cannot establish a person’s identity, we cannot ascertain the risk he or she may pose to the aviation industry or, indeed, to the countries they are traveling to along the way.
CNN reported that 40 international airport operators and authorities had gone to Israel during the first week in June 2016 to learn about how the Israel system of airport and airline security works. It has protected Ben Gurion airport from a terrorist attack for over three decades. More than 16 million air travelers pass through screenings at Ben Gurion airport annually. Profiling is the key, but so it adoption of technology and biometric identification. Think of the Israeli start up company Faception, with advance facial recognition technology capable of detecting terrorists. Israel must also be doing something to vett its airport workers that the rest of the world’s airports aren’t doing. Time for Congress to think deeper than asking about quick fixes for reducing the waiting times on TSA screenings queues during this hot travel season. Why are airport security workers like Mr. Abadi Ali, a Somali refugee émigré with war crimes indictments, employed at Dulles Airport? Why aren’t they vetted properly instead of snagging a granny for carrying a water bottle on board?
What can citizens do to determine whether adequate security screening of airport workers is properly handled? Consider joining the NSTFA team to help develop information how contracts are bid for airport service providers and the terms for independent security screenings of employees in target locations.
Listen to the Soundcloud recording of Lisa Benson Show Conference Call on Airport Security.