Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the admission into the United States of people from seven Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely banning refugees from war-torn Syria stirred an uproar across the nation, with protesters gathering at the nation’s largest airports.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a CNN interview from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport that it was important to protect the United States from people who want to harm the country. But he argued that refugees are heavily vetted by the U.S. government and that recent attacks have not been from nationals of the countries singled out by Trump.
"The various people who have, in fact, committed terrorist acts in this country, from 9/11 on, none of them came from any of the seven countries that are the subject of the president's executive order," Nadler said in a CNN interview Jan. 28. "If you really want to protect this country, why are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey left out of the order? Most of the 9/11 conspirators came from Saudi Arabia."
Trump’s executive order signed Jan. 27, called "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States," suspended for 90 days the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Individuals from those seven countries who are U.S. lawful permanent residents are also stopped from re-entering the country (though exemptions may apply), the New York Times reported, attributing the information to the Department of Homeland Security.
We wondered if Nadler was correct by saying that since 9/11, terrorist acts in the United States have not been carried out by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Experts told us no fatal attack has been attributed to nationals from those countries, but that there have been a few non-deadly acts by individuals from two of those countries.
Increased homegrown terrorism
But in its overview of who are the individuals committing the attacks, New America says the majority of attackers come from within.
"Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident," the New America study says. "In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration."
"It's certainly the case that none of the major, deadly attacks carried out in the United States were carried out by people from these countries," said Erin Miller, who manages the Global Terrorism Database for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.
Other experts agreed.
"Since 9/11, no one has been killed in this country in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated from any of the seven countries," added William C. Banks, director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law.
In June 2016, Omar Mateen, born in the United States to Afghan parents, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in an Orlando nightclub shooting. In December 2015, a Pakistani woman, Tashfeen Malik, and her husband killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. The husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was born in the United States to Pakistani parents.
However, there have been at least three non-deadly attacks in which the perpetrators were from Iran or Somalia, said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, expert on terrorism and a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.
One of those examples includes the November 2016 attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who had lived in Pakistan before coming to the United States. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, was shot dead by a police officer after he slammed his car into pedestrians and injured others with a butcher knife. The FBI said it would investigate the attack as a "potential act of terrorism."
In September 2016, Dahir Adan was shot dead after stabbing nine people in a Minnesota shopping mall. Adan was identified by his father as Somali but born in Kenya, moving to the United States when he was a child.
Another incident was in 2006, when Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar ran a Jeep Cherokee into a crowd of people at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. Thinking he would be killed during the attack, Taheri-Azar left a letter in his apartment saying he wanted revenge for the deaths of Muslims across the world caused by the United States, the AP reported. A naturalized citizen born in Iran, Taheri-Azar in 2008 plead guilty to nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced for up to 33 years in prison.
On ABC’s This Week, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the president’s order covered countries that the Obama administration had identified as needing further travel restrictions.
"What the president did was take the first step through this executive order of insuring that we're looking at the entire system of who's coming in, refugees that are coming in, people who are coming in from places that have a history or that our intelligence suggests that we need to have further extreme vetting for," Spicer said Jan. 29.
Starting in early 2016, individuals from countries that participate in the visa waiver program (that is, people allowed to travel to the United States without a visa) and who had also been in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya or Somalia recently (with exceptions for diplomatic or military purposes) were no longer permitted to come to the United States without a visa. They were not banned from traveling, but they did need to apply for a visa and be vetted.
People who were nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria were also no longer able to come to the United States without a visa.
Nadler said, "The various people who have, in fact, committed terrorist acts in this country, from 9/11 on, none of them came from any of the seven countries that are the subject of the president's executive order."
Experts on terrorism tell us that since 9/11 no one in the United States has been killed in a terrorist attack by someone from the seven countries for which Trump’s executive order temporarily suspends admission. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
But there have been at least three non-deadly cases in which the perpetrator was connected to Iran or Somalia.
Nadler’s statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details. We rate it Half True.
The New York Times, Full Executive Order Text: Trump’s Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S., Jan. 27, 2017
CNN, CNN Newsroom transcript, Jan. 28, 2017
The New York Times, President Trump’s Immigration Order, Annotated, Jan. 28, 2017
New America, Terrorism in America After 9/11, accessed Jan. 29, 2017
Email interview, Erin Miller, who manages the Global Terrorism Database for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, Jan. 29, 2017
Email interview, William C. Banks, director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, Jan. 29, 2017
Email interview, John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, expert on terrorism and a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, Jan. 29, 2017
WRAL.com, UNC 'Pit' attacker gets up to 33 years; victims share their stories, updated Dec. 17, 2015
Carolina Alumni Review, Driver in Pit Incident Sentenced to Prison, Aug. 27, 2008
The Denver Post, AP, Man sentenced in SUV attack, Aug. 26, 2008
Cato Institute, Guide to Trump’s Executive Order to Limit Migration for "National Security" Reasons, Jan. 26, 2017
TERRORISM SINCE 9/11 The American Cases, Edited by John Mueller, Jan. 10, 2017
PolitiFact, Democratic senator: Fixes to immigration system might already be on the books, Jan. 18, 2017
The New York Times, Suspect Is Killed in Attack at Ohio State University That Injured 11, Nov. 28, 2016
The New York Times, Ohio State Attacker May Have Been ‘Inspired’ by Al Qaeda, F.B.I. Says, Nov. 30, 2016
ABC News, 'This Week' Transcript 1-29-17: Sean Spicer, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Robert Gates, Jan. 29, 2017
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.