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Status of terrorist suspects in the U.S.A.

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What is the citizenship status of terrorist suspects in the United States?

Republican presidential candidates sparred over immigration during the 2015 primary debates, and in recent months, they linked that topic to terrorism. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul went back and forth over the issues in a Las Vegas debate on Dec. 15.

Paul accused Rubio of being soft on immigration, and hence soft on terrorism.

«The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that,» Paul said. «I want more rules, more scrutiny. And to defend the country, you have to defend the border.»

Paul’s point, his staff said, was that the terrorist attacks caused by immigrants were carried out by people who came here legally.

Paul’s phrasing about the citizenship status of terrorists was confusing, so we decided not to rate it on our Truth-O-Meter. But we did want to look at the facts about the citizenship of terrorists who’ve attacked since Sept. 11, 2001.



University of Maryland, Global Terrorism Database and subset of 33 in the U.S., Accessed Dec. 16, 2015

New America Foundation, «Homegrown extremism 2000-2015,» Accessed Dec. 16, 2015

Ohio State University Professor John Mueller, Terrorism since 9/11 the American cases, April 2015

International Business Times, «Terrorism attacks since 9/11 have involved U.S. Citizens, not immigrants, despite GOP debate claim,» Dec. 16, 2015

New York Times, «The Origins of Jihadist-Inspired attackers in the U.S.,» Nov. 25, 2015

New York Times, «Dylann Roof’s past reveals trouble at home and school,» July 16, 2015

New York Times, «Robert Dear, Suspect in Colorado Killings, ‘Preferred to Be Left Alone,’» Nov. 28, 2015

New York Times, «At Fort Hood, wrestling with label of terrorism,» April 8, 2014

Washington Post, «Chattanooga gunman came from a middle-class Muslim family,» July 16, 2015

CNN, «Fort Hood shooting jury recommends death penalty for Nidal Hasan,» Aug. 29, 2013

CNS News, «Six years later: Obama finally calls Fort Hood a terrorist attack,» Dec. 7, 2015

Snopes, «American Frag,» Nov. 20, 2015

PunditFact, «Kohn: Since 9/11, right-wing extremists killed more Americans than Islamic extremists,» Jan. 8, 2015

PunditFact, «Rep. Carson miscasts racial supremacists as greater threat than jihadists,» Dec. 18, 2015

Cato Institute, «Terrorism in the American psyche,» by Ohio State political scientist John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, civil engineer and risk analyst at the University of Newcastle in Australia, December 2015

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, «Timeline: Wade Michael Page,» 2012


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