Many Terrorists Have U.S. Criminal Records

Monday, 07 Jul 2008 12:15 PM

By Jim Meyers

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A surprising number of insurgents and detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan turn out to have criminal records in the U.S., FBI and military fingerprinting reveals.

The fingerprinting records indicate that potential enemies overseas know a great deal about the U.S. because they have previously lived here.

Many of the hundreds of suspected terrorists with arrest records in America came to the U.S. to study, former Criminal Justice Information Services head Michael Kirkpatrick told The Washington Post.

“It suggests there was some familiarity with Western culture, the United States specifically, and for whatever reason they did not agree with that culture,” he said.

Fingerprinting of detainees abroad began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In December of that year, an FBI team was sent to Afghanistan to fingerprint and interview foreign fighters.

As officials analyzed the results, “they were surprised to learn that one out of every 100 detainees was already in the FBI’s database for arrests. Many arrests were for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations,” The Post reports.

The fingerprinting program has now grown into a large-scale effort to build a huge database of known or suspected terrorist fingerprints. Fingerprints currently arrive in the U.S. via satellite from the Philippines, Colombia and other locales in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Frances Fragos Townsend, a security consultant and former Homeland Security Advisor to President Bush, told The Post that she found the number of suspected terrorists with criminal records in the U.S. “stunning.”

She added that she believes the fingerprinting program is “going to give us far greater insight into the relationships between individuals fighting against U.S. forces in the theater and potential U.S. cells or support networks here in the United States.”

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