The Clarion Project recently reported that the United States is considering removing Sudan from the United States Department of State’s (DOS) “List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.” While the designation currently remains in place, the fact that the U.S. government has even considered changing it is profoundly disturbing.
Since gaining independence in 1956, Sudan has been a hotbed of Islamic terrorism. Ruled by a succession of military regimes with significant ties to terror organizations, the United States has repeatedly suspected it of harboring members of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and a host of other dangerous Jihadist groups. When terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden was expelled from his native Saudi Arabia in 1996, he was given refuge by the Sudanese government.
Even the open-borders Cato Institute has acknowledged that – between 1975 and 2015 – at least six Sudanese nationals have been convicted of attempting, or carrying out, terrorist plots in the U.S. In February of 2017, a new offender was added to that list: a Sudanese man living in Virginia was convicted of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). Prosecution documents filed with the court state that he wanted to start an ISIS “sleeper cell” in the United States. Meanwhile, it is impossible for U.S. authorities to know whether some other Sudanese national, who they didn’t catch, has already been successful in establishing a terrorist cell within the United States.
The U.S. does not automatically ban travel from state sponsors of terrorism. However, Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 prohibits the issuance of non-immigrant visas to applicants from a state sponsor of terrorism unless the Secretary of State determines the applicant does not pose a threat to the safety and security of the United States. And, as a practical matter, immigration adjudicators tend to be hyper-vigilant when vetting applicants who are nationals of state sponsors of terrorism.
Based on Sudan’s track record as a failing state and haven for terrorists, the Trump administration rightly included it in its temporary travel moratorium. However, since activist courts have hobbled the president’s immigration plans, he must rely on every available implement to ensure national security. If Sudan is removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list, American security agencies will be deprived of yet another useful tool for blocking terrorist admission to the United States. For that reason alone, Sudan should be kept on the list.