Don’t be fooled by Trump or outspoken terrorists, the Muslim travel ban won’t work
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President Donald J. Trump’s revised travel ban, Executive Order 13769, went into effect yesterday. It restricts travel from six Muslim majority nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days and suspends refugee resettlement for 120 days.

In the face of criticism, Trump and the White House contend that the ban was designed to protect the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States, but will it?

More importantly, will this travel ban protect Americans from acts of terrorism?

My forthcoming book, The Jihadi Next Door, features multiple interviews that I conducted through letters with convicted terrorists who are imprisoned in the United States. Incidentally, like the 45th president and his supporters, these extremists also favor the travel ban.

For example, Kevin James was sentenced to serve 16 years for forming a domestic terrorist group — Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh — and planning to attack United States military operations, “infidels,” and Israeli and Jewish facilities in Los Angeles, California.


From his maximum security prison cell in Florence, Colorado, James wrote, “These Muslims migrating to these disbelievers lands; it’s their choice, they are free to make it, but Islamically they are wrong and sinning. They should find refuge in the Muslim lands...This is why I say Trump aids Islam in that he erases the grey area. He makes the disobedience against Islam clear and strips them of their ignorant delusion that America isn’t fighting Islam.”

Or take Donald Ray Morgan, who was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization — the Islamic State. From his federal prison cell Morgan wrote, “I make dua (prayer) that (Trump) deports all Muslims who turn away from their religion then extradite them to the Islamic State for prescribed punishment. The (travel ban) makes complete sense on paper, but there are 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide and increasing daily...This means that many Muslims are already in your communities, schools and universities, gyms, jobs etc. Some are like me patiently waiting in your prison system and are able to teach and speak to a 'captive' audience of misguided people that need faith, direction and purpose...A ban can't stop that, can it?"

Convicted terrorists support Trump’s travel ban because it sends a message that is consistent with their extremist propaganda. The reality is that the travel ban will not impact terrorists nor protect Americans. It is more likely to negatively impact good people who are simply trying to escape dangerous regimes and/or be reunited with family.

For example, take Manyang Reath Kher. He came to the United States as an orphaned refugee from Sudan­–one of the 20,000 ‘Lost Boys’ who were displaced after losing their parents during the Sudanese civil war. He lived in refugee camps along the Sudan-Ethiopia border for 13 years, where he faced homelessness, hunger, fear, and abuse.

After coming to America at the age of 17, Kher attended University of Richmond and even started his own nonprofit Humanity Helping Sudan­, which runs on the ground programs in Sudanese refugee camps where they provide fishing nets, agricultural programs, and community gardens, reaching 40,000 displaced people.

Kher is the archetype of the American dream, not a threat. Yet, he is the type of person that could be turned away at the border under this executive order.

What Trump seems to fail to comprehend is that his travel ban has the potential to help terror organizations like the Islamic State and further endanger their victims.

In order to combat terrorism, the president must instead identify ways to prevent people from becoming terrorists. He must contradict the Jihadist narrative–that their plight is a religious one–not bolster this falsehood.

Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco holds a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society from George Mason University. Her book, The Jihadi Next Door, is contracted for publication in 2018 by SkyHorse and has been featured in media outlets around the world, including CNN and NBC. Her writing can be found in Thompson Reuters, Forbes, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, The Crime Report and The Diplomatic Courier.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.