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Opinion The fight against terror is not about refugees

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Right-wing candidates lacking national security expertise desperately want to make the attacks in Paris about refugees. Aside from the noxious ploy to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, the facts show a different story than these politicians would like to create. The New York Times reports:

American authorities this year have arrested nearly five dozen people in the United States for helping to support or plot with the Islamic State, according to a new study, the largest number of terrorism-related arrests in the country in a single year since September 2001.
The Islamic State recruits defy any single profile, the study found, although they are younger than previous terrorism suspects, draw heavily on converts to Islam, and reflect increasingly prominent roles for women in the terrorist organization.
A demographic snapshot of the 71 individuals arrested on charges related to the Islamic State since March 2014, including 56 this year, emerged from a comprehensive review of social media accounts and legal documents of nearly 400 American sympathizers of the Islamic State conducted by researchers at George Washington University. . . . According to the study, about 14 percent of those arrested were women, and the vast majority were American citizens or permanent residents, emphasizing the homegrown threat the authorities are combating, compared with foreigners infiltrating the country.

The Hill newspaper adds an important bit of data: ” ‘What we do see in the United States is an unprecedented mobilization’ that is ‘bigger than any other mobilization we have seen since 9/11,’ Lorenzo Vidino, the director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said during an event releasing the report.”

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This does not mean that we should be unconcerned about visitors on visas, border security and refugees (who are vetted extensively for more than a year overseas). It does, however, mean that making this the focus of our fight against Islamic terror is entirely misguided, not to mention politically opportunistic.

We might start with having an effective policy (a policy, even) aimed at destroying the enemy, which gives training and inspiration to terrorists acting on its behalf around the globe. The Hill reports:

The United States has “not contained” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the nation’s top military officer said Tuesday, contradicting President Obama’s remarks last month about the terror group.
“We have not contained” ISIS, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.  . . .
His remarks were in response to questioning by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on whether ISIS has been contained at any time since 2010.
Dunford added that ISIS posed a threat beyond Iraq and Syria to countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan.

The president has no answer, so he goes to Paris to talk about climate change. Right-wingers pandering to isolationists have no answer, so they talk about immigrants. Maybe we should listen to candidates and elected officials who want to deploy the full assortment of military, economic and intelligence tools at our disposal, ruling out nothing and committing to something more than kicking the can down the road and praying the homeland is not hit.