Portman Statement on Federal Charges Against Ohio-Based Alleged ISIS Operative Using Unsecured Southern Border to Smuggle in Terrorists

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced federal charges against an alleged ISIS operative in Columbus, Ohio was in the United States with a pending asylum application, planning to use our unsecured southern border to bring in fellow terrorists, and plotting to murder President George W. Bush: 

“While I commend the thorough work done by the FBI, DOJ, and Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, I am alarmed that an alleged ISIS operative has been working in Columbus, Ohio with a pending asylum application. It is clear that the vetting process for our asylum program is broken and the administration must take action immediately to ensure no more terrorists are allowed into Ohio or our country. 

“It is concerning that the alleged ISIS operative was planning to capitalize on our unsecured southern border to smuggle allies in to aid in his plot to murder President George W. Bush, and also claimed to have already smuggled in two individuals associated with Hezbollah. I have reached out to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the suspect’s claim. 

“I have repeatedly expressed my frustration on the lack of proper screening and vetting for Afghan evacuees after the administration’s chaotic evacuation as well as the need to improve the intelligence and information sharing with other countries for high-risk individuals coming into the United States. The news of this alleged ISIS operative roaming freely in our community only reinforces the need to get our system in order. This incident also serves as an unfortunate reminder that international jihadi terrorists continue to plot attacks against the United States more than twenty years after the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

“The lack of responsible border policies by this administration is allowing terrorists into communities in Ohio and throughout the country. This administration must take action to secure our southern border and improve the vetting of asylum seekers to ensure the safety and security of American families.”