Last Friday, US President Dold Trump signed an executive order for “Protecting the tion from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. However, the general feeling is that the US President’s directive is unlikely to significantly reduce the terrorist threat in the US, which has been a miniscule part of the overall toll of violence since 2001. In fact, several experts believe that the order’s unintended consequences will make the threat worse. What is interesting about the order is that it requires the Department of Homeland Security to issue a report within 180 days providing detailed statistics on foreign tiols who commit acts of violence. After all, terrorism researchers have already produced rich and revealing data on the issue. One of the facts to emerge from this is that since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, no one has been killed in the US in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the seven countries targeted in the order’s 120 days visa ban. What is intriguing is that countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the founders of al Qaida origited, have been excluded from the list. So have countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where persistent extremism and decades of war have produced militants who have occasiolly reached the US. And what about European countries where disfranchised Islamic communities have become the architects of militancy? After all, the major attacks in Paris and Brussels last year were carried out in the me of the Islamic State. What adds to the difficulties of the US is that no visas are required for travel in the United States by most European citizens. Can the US honestly hope to exclude Muslim citizens of European countries considering the volume of tourism and business between Europe and the US?
The other aspect of Dold Trump’s ban that needs to be considered is the number of people killed in the US by Muslim terrorists as a percentage of the total number of killings. Since the attacks of 2001, 123 people have been killed in the US by Muslim terrorists out of a total number of more than 230,000 killings. This works out to 0.0534 per cent of the total number of killings in the US by a whole gamut of killers like gang members, drug dealers, angry spouses, white supremacists, psychopaths, drunks and others. As such, Dold Trump has no valid reasons to ban travel by Muslims of the seven countries med above in the United States. Quite obviously, this order has created difficulties for thousands of people from these countries who are already in the US and had planned to be in that country for a few more months. But that apart, Trump’s ban could well be an order that could trigger terrorist activity where there is hardly any such activity to worry about. This is what Daniel Benjamin, the US State Department’s top counter-terrorism official at one time and now a scholar at Dartmouth has to say about the ban: “In my opinion, this is just a huge mistake in terms of counter-terrorism cooperation… For the life of me, I don’t see why we should want to aliete the Iraqis when they are the ground force against ISIS.” According to Benjamin, the jihadist threat in the US has turned out to be largely homegrown, and the order will encourage precisely the resentments and anxieties on the part of Muslims that fuel, in rare cases, support for the ideology of the Islamic State or al Qaida. What might be justified as a protective measure for other smaller countries will not be viewed in the same light in the case of the US because the US is a superpower and because the US has, for a couple of centuries at least, been regarded as a country with a very liberal immigration policy. One cannot help feeling sorry for the 110,000 people in line to be processed for resettlement in the US. They are there because of the very positive experience of others in such lines before them. Dold Trump’s order comes like a jolt that pulls away the very ground from under their feet.