Virtually no database of information exists to screen Syrian refugees coming into the United States, according to the FBI Director James Comey.
The statements were made by Comey while testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about the security risks involved in taking in Syrian refugees.
Following the Iraq war, refugees were screened against a database of fingerprints garnered from IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). However today, Comey said, “The only thing we can query is information that we have. So, if we have no information on someone, they’ve never crossed our radar screen, they’ve never been a ripple in the pond, there will be no record of them there and so it will be challenging.”
The FBI will base its assessment on some fingerprints and a “variety of intelligence sources that may help us understand who these people are,” Comey said, while acknowledging that, “We had a whole lot more information about Iraq because our soldiers had been there and had run into people and collected information.”
During the hearing, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) pointed out, according to the U.N., more than 43 million people worldwide are now displaced because of conflicts. Children constitute close to 41 percent of all refugees worldwide and women almost half.
However, the percentages are significantly different when it comes to the Syrian refugees. Of the close to 380,000 arrivals across the Mediterranean Sea from January through September of this year, 15%were children, 13% were women and 72% were men.
Gohmert quoted Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as saying, “This provides a prime opportunity for Islamic State groups to attack Western targets … It’s a disaster of biblical proportions.”
According to statements made by the Islamic State, Gohmert said the terrorist organization has been able to place more than 4,000 warriors among the Syrian refugees.
Concerning inadequate screening of these refugees, Comey said, “It’s a risk we are focused on and we are trying to do anything we can to mitigate.”
Watch the exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Comey in a House Judiciary hearing: