Confusing Terrorists with Terrorist Victims

The rebels killed her father when they raided her home in Liberia. She was held prisoner, beaten and raped, even forced to wash the clothing of the men who raped her. Fortunately she was able to escape after a few weeks and became a refugee. The UN determined that she is “particularly vulnerable to attack” in Liberia and recommended her for the US refugee resettlement program, which allows her to take refuge in the United States.

However, the Department of Homeland Security won’t let her in. Why? Because when she was forced to do the washing for rebels who had raped her and killed her father she was in effect providing “material support” to terrorists. By law, no one who has provided material support to terrorists can be allowed into the US. Under the Homeland Security’s interpretation of the law “it does not matter whether the support provided was given willingly or under duress”.*

Apparently this is not an isolated case. A family in Sierra Leone was attacked by rebels,

“[a] young family member was killed with machetes, another minor was subjected to burns and the woman and her daughter were raped. The rebels kept the family captive for days in their own home.”*

However the survivors in this family are being denied refuge status in the U. S. because Homeland Security has ruled that they “provided housing” to the rebels who invaded their home.

According to the law, Homeland Security has the authority to make exceptions to the “material support” provision. But apparently they are too frightened to do so, determined not to be labeled weak on terrorism. Nor is Congress brave enough to modify the law for cases of duress. Writes George Rupp, who is president of the International Rescue Committee,

Unfortunately, the actions of Homeland Security go far beyond barring the affected refugees from entering the U.S. They become permanently tainted by suspicions of terrorism and find themselves shut out by other nations that resettle refugees. And the governments now providing these people with temporary asylum might even force them back to the nations they fled.

U.S. policy toward authoritarian governments has been turned on its head: The victims of terrorism are being denied protection and sanctuary. . . . Neither the administration nor Congress seems able to fix the problem for fear of being labeled weak on terrorism. George Rupp, “Terrorist or Terrorized?” LA Times, March 29, 2006 Such is the insanity to which our current state of fear has brought us. * all quotes from article by George Rupp, “Terrorist or Terrorized?, LA Times, March 29, 2006


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