Maine Gov. Paul LePage is seeking sweeping changes in the way refugees are awarded welfare benefits after he blew the whistle on an “embarrassing” situation in his own state.
An Iranian refugee left Maine to fight for ISIS while he and his family received food stamps and other benefits for four years.
LePage is calling for an audit of all taxpayer-funded payouts to refugees in his state and nationwide, the Boston Herald reported in an article titled, “Welfare for ISIS: The outrageous case of Iranian refugee Adnan Fazeli.”
Fazeli, 38, came to Freeport, Maine, in 2009 and was killed last year on the battlefield in Lebanon after abandoning his wife and three kids to join the Caliphate’s army, according to federal court documents unsealed this week and disclosed by the Herald.
The family’s food stamps and welfare checks were cut off in 2013, Maine officials told the Herald, after Fazeli left the state for Turkey in his drive to become an ISIS fighter.
LePage said the outrageous revelation of an ISIS convert in his midst has left him “embarrassed” and outraged at President Obama’s “failed” vetting of immigrants, adding he’s fed up with states like his being left to deal with the refugee crisis.
“If people need to eat, I’ll feed them. But I want to keep Americans safe,” LePage told the Herald. “This is very embarrassing to the state of Maine, and I point the finger at the president and say, ‘How did this happen?’ If the federal government doesn’t do their job we don’t know what we’re getting.”
Fazeli reportedly became “self-radicalized” over the Internet while living in the U.S., according to an affidavit written by a state police detective on an FBI task force.
Maine officials said Fazeli received thousands of dollars worth of food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for at least four years until 2013. LePage is now calling for a review of all such benefits in his state.
The governor’s exposure of the “welfare for jihad” angle to the federal refugee resettlement program opens Pandora’s Box for other states where refugees have gone off the rails, boarding flights to Africa or the Middle East to fight for Islamic terror organizations.
The FBI has confirmed, for instance, that at least 35 Somalis have since 2007 left Minnesota and other states to join either al-Shabab in Somalia or ISIS in Syria, and certainly most would have been on welfare.
This is known because the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement’s 2014 Report to Congress shows (on Page 107) that 90 percent of refugees from the Middle East are on food stamps and 76 percent are on Medicaid. And 73 percent receive some form of cash assistance. The numbers for African refugees are only slightly lower.
The only difference is Minnesota is led by Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton, who has never had any qualms about paying out tax dollars to refugees on welfare.
LePage made a point of blasting Obama’s failed “vetting” system, but it remains unclear what type of system could have weeded out Fazeli, who became “radicalized” after he arrived in the U.S.
This has been the case with almost all of the refugees and children of refugees who have gone on to wage jihad either here in the U.S. or overseas.
“We raise them up, we pay for their school, we fixed their teeth and pay for their health care, we put roofs over their heads, all of this on our dime and then they become jihadists,” said Ann Corcoran, author of the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog and the book “Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America.”
“And what would have happened to them if we would have left them in the Middle East? That’s the truth of it. We’re paying to raise these jihadists here in the West.”
New congressional data released in June showed that hundreds of terror attacks have been foiled by the FBI since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, and a majority of them have involved immigrants from Muslim countries. Many others were plotted by second-generation American Muslims born to immigrant parents, indicating they were not assimilated into American culture.
Better vetting or a moratorium?
While President Obama has focused on trying to mainstream Islam, visiting mosques and claiming the religion is “peaceful” and “embedded in the fabric” of American culture, the Republicans in Congress and in the governors’ mansions have focused on the idea that all that is needed is better “vetting” of Muslim immigrants. Even GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who at first called for a moratorium on all Muslim immigration, has softened his stance to “extreme vetting” of migrants.
“Why not just have a moratorium instead of having to set up all these vetting systems that can’t work even at their best with people coming from all these failed states?” asked Dr. Andrew Bostom, an Islamic history scholar and author of several books including “Legacy of Jihad.”
And it’s not just terrorists who need to be screened out of the system, Bostom said. What about “peaceful” Muslims who believe in Shariah and its repression of women and homosexuals, justification of female genital mutilation and honor violence?
“We have a lot of global data on Muslim attitudes toward Shariah, and it’s not just those wanting to blow themselves up and kill people that we need to be worried about,” Bostom said. “If three-fourths of Muslims are Shariah-supremacist in their attitudes, that’s a problem too. It’s not a problem the moment they arrive, but it’s a long-term problem.”
Does the U.S. need more Muslim immigration?
Bostom believes the U.S. should be admitting the victims of global jihadism whether they be Christians from Syria or Pakistan or Yazidi or Bahai from Iraq. “Those are the people to take, the victims not the victimizers. It’s just a crazy policy, this whole idea of refugees.”
Focusing on vetting Muslims who can quickly get “radicalized” by merely looking at the Internet after arriving in U.S. cities will never protect American citizens from either terrorism or from Shariah, he said.
“What the hell does radicalized mean? I don’t know what it means,” Bostom said. “It’s the culture, so to me the only thing to do is to have a moratorium on these regions. By the way, we have enough Muslims in this country, and the ones who are here are not doing a good job of assimilating.”
The Obama administration has been bringing in at least 140,000 migrants per year from Muslim-dominated countries on permanent green-card status. At least that many more arrive every year on temporary visas, either as students or for work-related reasons.
Bostom points to polls commissioned by the Center for Security Policy that found 51 percent of U.S. Muslims said they wanted some form of Shariah, either in whole or in part, in the United States.
Bringing in more Muslims from countries where polls show even higher percentages who want Shariah to be the law of the land makes no sense, Bostom said.
“So what are we doing? Do you want to make that [51 percent] match Pakistan at 75 percent?”
Even Obama’s own FBI director, James Comey, has said vetting is impossible for refugees from Syria and other “failed states,” which would certainly include Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The current system of vetting only seeks to discover ties that immigrants may have to designated foreign terrorist organizations.
The issue of vetting becomes a straw man argument because in researching the backgrounds of Muslim migrants who go on to wage jihad one will find that most did not have any connections to formal organizations like ISIS or al-Qaida at the time they came to the U.S. In fact many were small children or teenagers when they arrived. It was only after they grew up and got serious in their faith, started reading the Quran and attending any one of the many Saudi-funded mosques in the U.S. that they became “radical” in their beliefs.
This was the case with Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the Chattanooga shooter who killed five unarmed U.S. servicemen last year. He came to the U.S. at the age of six, attended U.S. public schools, was popular in high school and earned a college degree. He could have been the poster boy for the successfully assimilated American Muslim immigrant. But at the age of 23 something changed. He got more religious, his friends said, he started attending mosque regularly and grew out his beard. He became more devout. The same could be said for the Tsarnaev brothers, who came to the U.S. as young boys and later carried out the Boston bombing.
Then there’s Omar Mateen, who killed 49 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12. He was not an immigrant, but he was born in the U.S. to immigrants from Afghanistan. How does the government “vet” against future babies born to Muslim immigrants?
LePage ‘haunted’ by current immigration system
LePage told the Herald that the immigration issue has haunted him since Mohamed Atta — one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — flew to Logan International Airport out of Portland, Maine. LePage was the general manager of Marden’s, a discount store where Atta was seen shopping.
“I’m having (the Maine Department of Health and Human Services) look at our welfare rolls closer,” LePage told the Herald. “All the other states should look at the eligibility, too.”
The governor also noted brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombers, were also self-radicalized while on welfare.
“Asylum seekers come here and we have to put them up, but the federal government is in control,” LePage said. “Once they get here, I can’t do anything about it. Obama says it’s my problem.”
LePage lashed out at Obama, saying the administration’s immigration policies “have been an utter failure and continue to jeopardize the safety of millions of Americans.”
Authorities said Fazeli came to Maine through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services.