The last month has seen a surprising number of attacks, both by and in response to ISIS. From Beirut, Paris, Tunis, Bamako, and more, what does this tell us about terrorism, ISIS, and refugees? Most importantly, as we reflect back on that nice Thanksgiving meal we had with beloved but perhaps not entirely informed relatives, what do we need to know?
Mainly, that the massive backlash in Europe and the US against accepting Syrian refugees is probably factually incorrect and likely to be very detrimental. Why?
First, because the facts don’t bear out that Muslim refugees are more likely to be perpetrators of terrorism, in fact, none of the terror attacks in the US since 9/11 have involved refugees. This bears out in Europe too, terrorists are likely to already be legally able to get into or already live in countries. What does that mean for counterterrorism strategies?
Second, ISIS doesn’t like these refugees, in fact more likely hates them. Why? Because the fact that so many people are fleeing, even in the increasingly difficult weather and political conditions, proves to the world, contrary to ISIS propaganda, just how horrible it is to live under ISIS. However, ISIS does hope that a negative Western response to the refugees will make it easier for ISIS to recruit from these disaffected populations who originally fled ISIS, but in the face of active Western disapproval, may fall more in line with anti-Western ISIS rhetoric. So keeping thousands of people in inadequate camps, especially as winter hits, plays right into ISIS’ hands, which seems to be exactly the opposite of what these anti-refugee people want. So there’s that.
Third, as Senator Warren so eloquently explains, shutting out refugees is both stupid and pretty profoundly anti-American, so those basing their arguments off American patriotism(aka jingoism) should perhaps reconsider. As John Oliver entertainingly explains, in American history only once have refugees caused the mass eradication of the American way of life: and guess what we’re celebrating tomorrow? Those exact refugees. That may not go down so well with your more right-wing family members though.