MAY 30, 2007
Federal government officials claim that protecting the United States from another terrorist attack is a priority but two key agencies have failed miserably, one by deporting only a tiny percentage of terrorist suspects and the other by overlooking tax-exempt charities with terrorist links.
Immigration agencies within the Department of Homeland Security have tried to deport only a dozen people on terrorism-related charges in the last few years, out of the 814,073 targeted for deportation.
A research group affiliated with a major university published the disturbing information after analyzing the records – obtained through the Freedom of Information Act–of more than 200 immigration court judges employed by the Department of Justice.
A separate investigation revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does an equally poor job in identifying U.S. nonprofit organizations with documented ties to terrorists. Evidently, IRS investigators don’t bother to use updated federal watch lists to pinpoint ties between so-called charitable groups and terrorists.
The tax agency’s inspector general, which does independent oversight, discovered the negligence during a thorough investigation that concluded many terrorist front groups are not reported to the federal authorities actively fighting terrorism. The report reminds IRS officials that the nation is at war and all available tools must be used to stop the flow of U.S. dollars to the enemy.
It states that in fiscal year 2006 there were about 1.6 million tax-exempt organizations (excluding churches) with $2.4 trillion in assets and $1.2 trillion in annual revenues. In tax year 2003, the latest year figures were available, these organizations filed about 300,000 returns subject to review for possible terrorist connections.
But the IRS uses an outdated manual paper check of the returns against an outdated terrorist watch list that features only 1,600 organizations or aliases compared to the updated, 200,000-name list operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Using the smaller and outdated list, the IRS identified 93 possible terrorist organizations in 2006 and all but two were approved for tax-exempt status with no further investigation.
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