Extremists have targeted refugee program to enter US

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Intelligence officials have determined that Islamic extremists have explored using the refugee program to enter the United States, they told the head of the Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) revealed portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Monday, which offered new claims not previously disclosed by the Obama administration.

The disclosure could give ammunition to critics of the White House’s refugee plans who have warned that the program is vulnerable to infiltration by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The NCTC has identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program,” the intelligence agency told McCaul in a letter.

“The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West,” the agency added, noting that a small number of Iraqi refugees were arrested on terror charges in 2010.

McCaul disclosed the NCTC’s analysis during a speech at the National Defense University. He initially claimed that ISIS, in particular, had considered taking advantage of the refugee program, though his office later called that a “misstatement.”

“That was very courageous for them to come forward with this, to tell me about this personally, given the political debate on the Hill,” McCaul said on Monday.

The White House would not confirm or deny McCaul’s claim, which he was initially reluctant to link to the NCTC.  Read More

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