Most foreign-born terrorists radicalized 'years' after coming to US, DHS report

Report aimed at informing law enforcement on homeland terror threats.

Homeland Security downplayed the significance of the report, pointing out that the information was derived only from "unclassified, open source materials" and does not include information from "historical or current investigative case data" or "current intelligence from classified data."

According to John Cohen, an ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary for intelligence at DHS, if the report was inconsistent with current intelligence reporting it would have been resolved in clearance process before it was published.

According to Cohen, the report "undermines" the reasoning behind Trump's ban because terrorist attacks are primarily carried out by people already in the U.S., not those coming from overseas.

"This intelligence assessment absolutely undermines the justification for the proposed travel ban," said Cohen.

The findings are constant with past reports and studies on this issue, like the George Washington University program on extremism, which found that the "vast majority" ISIS attacks in the U.S. were carried out by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Last year, then-Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said in Congressional testimony that the terror landscape had shifted from terrorist-directed attacks, to a world that also includes the threat of "terrorist-inspired attacks – attacks by those who live among us in the homeland and self-radicalize, inspired by terrorist propaganda on the internet."

"By their nature, terrorist-inspired attacks are often difficult to detect by our intelligence and law enforcement communities," he added.

By focusing on banning people from certain countries, rather than the psychological and behavior characteristics that draw people to radicalization, authorities could miss the "key threat," said Cohen.

The DHS office of Intelligence and Analysis, which released the report, based its findings on the examination of 88 people, who either conducted or planned attacks in the U.S., provided funds to overseas terrorist organizations or traveled to join a terrorist group.

The report also found that nearly half of the foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists examined were less than 16 years old when they entered the country.

The majority of those lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years before they were either killed or were charged.

For example, the report cites, a man from Bangladesh who came to the U.S. when he was 11-months-old and lived in the country for 24 years before travelling to Syria and joining ISIS, as a well as Cuban man who came to the U.S. in 1989, but didn't start displaying signs of radicalization until 2015.

A previous DHS study found that of the most recent cases, between Jan. 2015 and Dec. 2016, these extremists began radicalizing on average 13 years after coming to the U.S., according to this report.

Justin Fishel contributed to this report.

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