WaPo Story About Trump's 'Muslim Ban' Perpetuates an Erroneous Narrative

By Todd Bensman on December 7, 2020

A December 2 Washington Post story about Joe Biden's pledge to immediately do away with the travel restrictions on 13 countries — the inaccurately named but popularly known "Muslim Travel Ban" — perpetuated an unsupported Democratic partisan assertion that should not go unchallenged.

The thrice-revised travel restrictions list enacted by President Donald Trump shortly after taking office currently restricts travel from 13 countries, including diplomatically recalcitrant nations like Myanmar, Venezuela, and North Korea as well as Muslim-majority nations where terrorist groups operate like Syria, Yemen, Chad, Sudan, Libya, Iran, and Somalia. The stated grounds for restricting visas from these 13 pre-modern or diplomatically hostile countries is that they can't or won't help with intelligence.

But the Post story, by immigration reporter Abigail Hauslohner, casually dismissed this foundational rationale, without evidence, and in doing so perpetuated a demonstrably untrue Democratic narrative when she wrote: "National security experts have noted that the administration has presented scant evidence of terrorism threats originating with citizens of any of the banned countries who obtained visas."

The newspaper goes on to include, again unchallenged, a false-narrative-supporting quote from Biden's campaign website that: "Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure."

The Post and Biden campaign's narrative of a zero-net impact of the ban on national security, however, is eminently challengeable. The following are just four cases — among many others like them — that illustrate how undesired, potentially dangerous travelers from some of the travel-restricted countries slipped through the pre-ban system. And what the United States can expect if Biden returns the country to the pre-ban system. We can know about these terrorist perpetrators because, luckily, they were caught and prosecuted in a public court system — where records are available to newspaper reporters.

Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan – Sudan

Under the later Trump travel restrictions, the Khartoum, Sudan-born Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan would not have been able to travel to the United States at all with his violent jihadist ideology that would eventually lead to his 2017 imprisonment on terrorism charges.

But the door was wide open under President Barack Obama on June 1, 2012, when the 21-year-old Elhassan arrived with his siblings and mother who, during an extended earlier trip to the United States for medical treatment, had managed to arrange temporary legal permanent residence visas for them all. At the time, Sudan would never have helped the United States with any sort of vetting; it was listed as a state sponsor of terror.

Within a year of his arrival, Elhassan was all over social media espousing violent, anti-American jihad under a pseudonym, according to court records. In 2013, for instance, he created a Facebook page characterizing himself as a dedicated jihadist using the Arabic words for "solo wolf" imposed over an image of a stalking wolf. In 2014, he established communications with the notorious Sudanese cleric Sheikh Mohammed Ali al Jazouli.

"The establishment of the governance of Allah on earth will be achieved only by fighting in the name of Allah," he posted, for instance, on September 13, 2013, a sentencing memorandum showed. Another posting to the sheikh in June 2014 read, in part, "Praise be to Allah here with you is a sleeper cell. Sheikh pray for us for success and rewards."

The FBI got on to him in late 2015 and by 2016, just before Trump was elected, Elhassan pleaded guilty to plotting with a co-conspirator to "chop heads" with ISIS in Syria. Shortly before Trump implemented his travel ban, a Virginia judge sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Read about three more case studies at Townhall Media.